OSHA Announces Increased Enforcement Efforts Related to COVID-19
This past month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a new national emphasis program and an Updated Interim Enforcement Plan as part of its efforts to address workplace safety issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
A national emphasis program is a temporary program focusing OSHA resources on particular hazards and high risk industries – in this case, the COVID-19 pandemic and industries experiencing greater COVID-19 challenges. Through this program, OSHA will focus its enforcement efforts on companies placing the largest number of workers at serious risk of COVID-19 infection, and will prioritize employers who retaliate against whistleblowing employees.
In May 2020, OSHA issued an Interim Enforcement Response Plan regarding its use of workplace inspections during the pandemic. OSHA has now issued an Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan, effective March 18, 2021, to prioritize the use of on-site inspections where practical, and a combination of on-site and remote methods otherwise. Remote-only inspections will be conducted only where OSHA determines that on-site inspections cannot be performed safely.