On March 12, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) designed to significantly reduce worker exposure to COVID-19 by targeting industries and worksites where employees may have a high frequency of close-contact exposures. The new NEP on COVID-19 has two main components:
1. It increases OSHA inspections of high-hazard industries where COVID-19 exposure is expected to be prevalent. The employers will be chosen from the primary and secondary target lists as seen below:
a. Primary target list (Appendix A):
i. Healthcare industry (i.e., dentist, home health care, ambulance services, general medical and surgical hospitals, nursing care, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, etc.)
ii. Non-healthcare industries (i.e., meat processing plant, poultry processing, supermarkets, general warehouse and storage, full-service restaurants, and correctional institutions, etc.)
b. Secondary target list (Appendix B):
i. Industries with non-healthcare essential workers who are likely to have the highest frequency of close-contact exposure to the public or to coworkers resulting from their on-site work-related duties.
ii. Food manufacturing, other miscellaneous manufacturing, food and beverage stores, component manufacturing, agriculture, etc.
2. It increases focus on preventing retaliation against workers who raise concerns by distribution anti-retaliation materials during inspections and increasing outreach programs.
Accordingly, effective March 12, 2021, each regional office will conduct targeted COVID-19 inspections from a randomized list created from the target lists, and the number of inspections are to account for at least 5 percent of the region’s total assigned inspection goal (1,600 inspections OSHA-wide). This NEP is effective for 12 months from the effective date (i.e., through March 12, 2022), unless canceled or extended by a superseding directive.