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. 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. Increases focus in 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% 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.

Please contact your Akerman attorney for assistance and more information on how to be prepared for increase in COVID-19 related inspections under the new NEP.