In response to the January 21, 2021 Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, OSHA has issued a COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (NEP) to ensure that employees in high hazard industries or work tasks are protected from COVID-19 hazards. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law. NEP inspections will enhance the agency’s previous coronavirus enforcement efforts.
In a related action, OSHA has also updated its Interim Enforcement Response Plan to prioritize the use of on-site workplace inspections where practical, or a combination of on-site and remote methods. OSHA will only use remote-only inspections if the agency determines that on-site inspections cannot be performed safely. On March 18, 2021, OSHA will rescind the May 26, 2020, memorandum on this topic and this new guidance will go into and remain in effect until further notice.