On March 12, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) launched a National Emphasis Program (“NEP”) in an effort to protect workers from the hazard of contracting COVID-19 at work. This NEP was issued the same week the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law, giving OSHA an additional $100 million in funding for this purpose.
The NEP identifies high-hazard industries which will be the focus of OSHA’s enforcement efforts. Targeted industries include those in health and senior care, as well as food processing and distribution. Lists of these industries are set forth in Appendices A and B of the NEP, and a link to the NEP can be found here:
Of more general significance is the NEP’s enhanced focus on whistleblower protection for those who claim unhealthful working conditions including potential exposure to the coronavirus. In this regard, we previously reported on OSHA’s recently published COVID-19 guidance linked here.
While the guidance is not an OSHA standard, OSHA recently cited an employer under its general duty standard after several employees allegedly contracted COVID-19 at work, basing its citation on the employer’s failure to follow the guidelines, as well as a local mask ordinance.
If you have any questions about this guidance, please contact one of our labor and employment law attorneys listed below:
Eric J. Holshouser | 904.346.5788 | EHolshouser@rtlaw.com
Samuel J. Horovitz | 904.346.5774 | SHorovitz@rtlaw.com
Robert G. Riegel, Jr. | 904.473.1383 | RRiegel@rtlaw.com
Michael J. Lufkin | 904.346.5795 | MLufkin@rtlaw.com
Kathryn K. Rudderman | 904.346.5791 | KRudderman@rtlaw.com