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OSHA Launches COVID-19 National Emphasis Program

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Last Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new national emphasis program (NEP) “focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. 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.” According to OSHA, targeted inspections of the industries and workplaces that fall under the NEP aim to “reduce or eliminate coronavirus exposure for workers in companies where risks are high, and to protect workers who raise concerns that their employer is failing to protect them from the risks of exposure.”

The ready mixed concrete industry could fall into the secondary industries category of the NEP. Therefore, there could be liabilities that producers should be sensitive to. The NEP-related inspections will mainly look to verify that employers are making the correct effort and taking the correct actions to protect workers from COVID-19 infection. The precautions OSHA will be looking for are those that fall in line with OSHA’s and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent COVID-19 workplace guidance. If a ready mixed concrete producer receives a visit from OSHA related to the NEP, NRMCA recommends following the OSHA and CDC guidance as well as reviewing the various other resources found on NRMCA’s COVID-19 Resources webpage. The NEP, absent any changes or cancellation, will remain in effect for the next 12 months.

Finally, as has been mentioned before, OSHA had an obligation on March 15, 2021, as per President Biden, to decide whether an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is needed to mandate COVID-19 workplace precautions and requirements across virtually all industries. As of right now, it is not currently known if or when OSHA will make an announcement, nor does it appear that this NEP is in lieu of an ETS. NRMCA will be sure to relay any new information on an ETS once it is known.

In addition to OSHA’s NEP, OSHA also announced an update to its previous guidance to OSHA inspectors and compliance officers about how to conduct workplace inspections during the pandemic. This Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan will focus on those items common to the new NEP, OSHA and CDC guidance.

Please click here to review the updated enforcement plan, here to review OSHA’s NEP announcement and here to review the NEP. For more information, contact Kevin Walgenbach at


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