written by Mike Alexander, Jr 04/30/2021
OSHA has launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) which will ramp up the number of work site inspections in 2021. Whether your employees have been working in person through the pandemic or not, you need to assess your risk and ensure that you’re doing everything possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
What is the NEP?
The National Emphasis Program is a new OSHA directive intended to ensure the safety of workers in positions at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection, such as in the healthcare industry as well as retail and grocery workers.
As a part of the NEP, additional funding will be provided to OSHA to allow for more on-site inspections of those businesses that are identified as higher risk in addition to regular OSHA inspections.
COVID-19 Prevention in the Workplace
In January, OSHA published information to offer guidance to employers on how to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition to this guidance, OSHA has been given an executive order to deliver an emergency temporary standard regarding COVID-19 workplace safety, but have yet to do so.
Under the current information that’s been published, OSHA recommends that employers implement a prevention program that includes the following elements:
- Hazard assessment – do your own inspection and assessment of the workplace to determine where employees are mostly likely to be at risk of infection; include employees in your assessment process because they know their job and work conditions best.
- Measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 – identify ways that you can help prevent or eliminate the spread of COVID-19 in high risk situations, such as policies for masks social distancing.
- Measures to limit contact with employees who may be infected with COVID-19 – establish procedures to limit the spread of COVID-19 between employees by separating or sending home employees who might be infected.
- Protections from retaliation for workers raising COVID-19 related concerns – as with any report of workplace safety, ensure that employees feel safe making reports if they are concerned about possible COVID-19 exposure.
As more and more businesses begin to open back up and bring employees back to a physical location, it’s important to keep safety in mind. In addition to the guidance provided by OSHA, the CDC has published guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 which can help inform employers looking to set their own standards while awaiting official standards from OSHA.
If you have not implemented and/or need guidance, call our office at 281-448-3040. Visit us at www.cobensrv.com