OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on COVID-19

Denise GillinNews, Risk Management

By AP Senior Living

National Emphasis Programs (NEPs) have been used relatively sparingly in recent years, the last being focused on limiting workers exposure to silica, approximately a year ago. These seemingly have been reserved for exposures typically found in heavy industrial or manufacturing type risks. The most recent NEP, titled “Coronavirus Disease 2019,” was implemented by Executive Order by President Biden, which became effective March 12, 2021, and is scheduled to run one year. This NEP, in contrast to others, will have far reaching implications to almost every industry in the country.

OSHA is prioritizing industries who they perceive are most at risk. Not surprisingly, Residential Care Facilities are at the top of that list. This NEP is a combination of targeted inspections, outreach to employers, compliance assistance and Whistleblower protection. While OSHA has historically been good at outreach, we are suspect of any compliance assistance they may give related to this NEP. Another thought for consideration is that once they are in your business, they will likely expand the scope of the inspection to look at your policies and practices related to Hazard Communication, Exposure Control (specifically Blood Borne Pathogens), Confined Spaces and Control of Hazardous Energy.

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