OSHA Program Focuses Enforcement on Hospitals, Other High-Risk Workplaces

AHA Special Bulletin
March 16, 2021

President Biden in January issued an Executive Order on “Protecting Worker Health and Safety” requiring the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to consider whether an “emergency temporary standard” (ETS) is necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and if so, to issue it by March 15. While this date has passed and OSHA has not yet announced an ETS, there is cause to believe it is still considering the issue.

In the meantime, OSHA followed through on another provision of the Executive Order which called upon the agency to launch a national program to focus enforcement efforts on violations that put the largest number of workers at serious risk or are contrary to anti-retaliation principles. Therefore, on March 12, OSHA issued a “National Emphasis Program” related to COVID-19 enforcement that expands upon OSHA’s current enforcement efforts by targeting specific high-hazard industries or activities where the risk of workers contracting COVID-19 is substantial. The agency also updated its “Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19” to conform to the priorities in the National Emphasis Program.

Health care providers are identified as a main focus of the program’s targeted enforcement actions, including hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health care services, and other providers. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers who complain about unsafe or unhealthful conditions, including referring allegations of retaliation to the Whistleblower Protection Program. Download the entire AHA Special Bulletin below. 

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