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OSHA Program Focuses on Retaliation Against Workers for Reporting COVID-19 Violations

March 16, 2021

A national emphasis program (NEP) from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) focusing on enforcing companies to follow coronavirus safety guidelines is targeting businesses that put the largest number of workers at risk of contracting COVID-19.

The NEP also prioritizes cracking down on employers that retaliate against workers who report unsafe or unhealthy conditions at their workplaces, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.

“This program seeks to substantially 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,” said Jim Frederick, principal deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

In addition to monitoring the effectiveness of OSHA’s coronavirus guidance efforts, the program will include workplace inspections including follow-up inspections of worksites scrutinized in 2020. The NEP will remain in effect for up to one year from its issuance date, although OSHA has the flexibility to amend or cancel the program as the pandemic subsides.

Several states have already adopted similar workplace coronavirus safety plans. OSHA strongly encourages the remaining states to adopt this NEP. State plans must notify federal OSHA of their intention to adopt the NEP within 60 days after its issuance.

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