National Emphasis Program to Protect High-Risk Workers from COVID-19

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Following President Biden’s executive order on worker health and safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a national emphasis program designed to focus enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

In the news release, OSHA stated that it created the program in order to keep employers from retaliating against workers who voice safety concerns, a right protected by federal law. 

“This deadly pandemic has taken a staggering toll on U.S. workers and their families. We have a moral obligation to do what we can to protect workers, especially for the many who have no other protection,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick.

“This program seeks to substantially reduce or eliminate coronavirus exposure for workers in companies where risks are high, and to protect workers who raise concerns that their employer is failing to protect them from the risks of exposure.”

 

What to Expect from the National Emphasis Program

 

The new national emphasis program inspections will double down on OSHA’s previous coronavirus enforcement efforts. Most notably, this will include some follow-up inspections of worksites inspected in 2020. 

The program will monitor the effectiveness of the agency’s efforts and will remain in effect for up to one year from the date issued. However, OSHA has the flexibility to amend or cancel the program as it sees fit. 

OSHA has also recently updated its Interim Enforcement Response Plan, which prioritizes the use of on-site workplace inspections or a combination of on-site and remote methods. Remote-only methods are reserved for cases where the agency determines that on-site inspections cannot be performed safely.

This new guidance will go into effect on March 18, 2020 — rescinding the memorandum on this topic from May 26, 2020. 

 

What The National Emphasis Program Means for State Plans 

 

OSHA state plans adopted varying degrees of requirements to protect workers.

In the news release, the agency acknowledged that many states already implemented enforcement programs similar to this NEP. States have 60 days to notify federal OSHA of their intention to adopt the NEP from the date of issuance.

The agency stated that it will ensure all of their Compliance Safety and Health Officers will have every necessary protection for onsite inspections. OSHA will evaluate risk while conducting on-site inspections and utilize appropriate protective measures, such as respiratory protection and other personal protective equipment. 

“With more people being vaccinated and the number of infections trending down, we know there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Frederick added.

“But until we are past this pandemic workers deserve a Labor Department that is looking out for their health.”

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About Worksite Medical

In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.

Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.

We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.

With Worksite Medical, a mobile medical testing unit — we can bring all the resources of a lab to you. Our certified lab technicians can perform both qualitative and quantitative respirator tests to ensure a perfect fit.

Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.

Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or complete the form below to schedule an on-site visit or to get your free quote.

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