OSHA substantially changed its National Emphasis Program for Covid 19 launched earlier this year.
For one thing, it is no longer designated as a NEP but instead is now termed an updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan, or IERP.
Initially targeted was the healthcare industry, which includes hospitals, healthcare providers, assisted living facilities and home healthcare services. That was followed in May by a focus on restaurants.
Other industries that are NEP targets include general warehousing and storage, temporary help and staffing agencies, discount department stores, supermarkets and grocery stores, and poultry and meat slaughtering and processing plants.
The July 7 directive shrinks the number of industries designated for enforcement by removing an appendix to the agency’s March directive that contained a list of secondary target industries. As a result, they will no longer be subject to the Covid enforcement initiative.
These are: agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; construction; and manufacturing having to do with food; beverages; wood products; paper; petroleum and coal products; chemicals; plastics and rubber products; nonmetallic mineral products; primary metals; and asphalt paving and roofing materials.
Other updates in the IERP include enforcing protections for workers in non-healthcare industries who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.
Where respirator supplies and services are readily available, OSHA will stop exercising discretion for temporary noncompliance with the Respiratory Protection standard based on employers’ claims of supply shortages due to Covid 19, and will do the same in regard to other health standards
The IERP also offers updated instructions to OSHA area offices and compliance safety and health officers for handling complaints, referrals and severe illness reports. In addition, OSHA said it will seek to protect workers from retaliation.