Employment Law Report

OSHA Focuses on Safety of High-Risk Workers from COVID-19

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has adopted a National Emphasis Program (NEP) focused on enforcement efforts for companies that put the largest number of workers at risk of contracting COVID-19.  OSHA has identified establishments with certain NAICS codes and having an elevated illness rate as reflected in Form 300A data for its enforcement efforts.  Inspections will be scheduled to ensure compliance with OSHA guidelines. The highest priority will be on fatality inspections related to COVID-19 with particular attention paid to workplaces with a high potential for COVID-19 exposure, such as correctional facilities, workplaces in critical industries located in communities with increasing rates of COVID-19 transmissions, and where workers are in close proximity to the public or co-workers, including meatpacking plants, poultry processing facilities, and grocery stores. Priority will also be given to complaints of worker exposure or insufficient protective practices. 

OSHA has compiled a primary list of healthcare and non-healthcare industries with NAICS codes having the highest numbers of OSHA-recorded fatalities, complaints, inspections, and violations that will be subject to programmed inspections.  Among the healthcare industries identified are physicians’ offices, dentists’ offices, home health care services, ambulance services, hospitals, nursing care facilities, residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and assisted living facilities.  Non-healthcare industries being targeted include meat processing plants, animal slaughtering, poultry processing, grocery stores, discount department stores, warehousing and storage, restaurants, and correctional institutions.  Secondary target industries include, but are not limited to critical industries in agriculture, construction, food and beverage manufacturing, wood and paper manufacturing, paving, petroleum and chemical manufacturing, rubber and plastics manufacturing, metal manufacturing, computer and electronic product manufacturing, electrical equipment, appliance, and component manufacturing, kitchen and countertop manufacturing, nurseries and garden centers, general merchandise stores, urban transit, school bus transportation, electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance, and commercial and industrial equipment repair and maintenance.  In addition, OSHA is focusing on employers that retaliate against workers for complaining of unsafe or unhealthy working conditions.  OSHA has strongly encouraged State Plans to adopt the NEP.  More information about OSHA’s COVID-19 compliance effort is located here.

Mitzi D. Wyrick
Mitzi Wyrick is a member of the Firm’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Service Team. She concentrates her practice in the areas of class actions, labor and employment law matters and complex commercial litigation. Read More