OSHA Revises National Emphasis Program for COVID-19
OSHA has updated its National Emphasis Program (NEP) for COVID-19. Launched on March 12, 2021, in compliance with an Executive Order issued by President Biden, the NEP originally focused on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 and on employers that retaliated against workers who complained about unsafe or unhealthy work conditions or exercised other rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The updated version of the NEP adjusts the targeted industries to those with the most risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposures, such as meat and poultry processing, and includes both healthcare and non-healthcare workplaces. The update also removes an appendix to the NEP that listed industries receiving secondary focus under the previous version of the program. The revised NEP additionally incorporates OSHA’s new emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 in healthcare, which went into effect on June 21, 2021.
National Emphasis Programs are temporary OSHA programs that focus the agency’s resources on particular hazards and high-hazard industries, identified using inspection, injury, and illness data; NIOSH reports; and peer-reviewed literature. Other recent NEPs cover crystalline silica hazards and trenching and excavation work.
More information about the updated NEP can be found in OSHA’s press release or in the revised National Emphasis Program for COVID-19 document (PDF). Information regarding the previous version of the NEP can be found in an AIHA news article published in March.