OSHA’S COVID-19 National Emphasis Program and Enforcement

On March 12, 2021, OSHA announced the COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (NEP) providing employers with notice of expected enforcement trends under the new Biden administration.  Below are key points for consideration.


  • One component of the NEP is targeted inspections of high hazard industries which provide a risk of COVID-19 infections. Employers in the health care sector would be considered high hazard.  Any employer, whether healthcare or non-healthcare, should revisit their COVID-19 safety controls and ensure compliance with the CDC and OSHA recommended guidance.
  • The Biden administration provided supplemental appropriation funds for OSHA to be used in a substantial part for facilitating increased inspections and enforcement. Workplaces with high potential for COVID-19 virus exposure will be prioritized for inspections.  Inspections will combine both “on-site” and virtual formats and OSHA indicated that it expects employers to take a collaborative approach in cooperation with inspections.
  • OSHA announced its intention with renewed purpose to investigate whistleblower complaints related to both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 cases. Employers, therefore, should ensure that employees are aware of their right to raise safety concerns without fear of retaliation.  The best way to communicate non-retaliation is through a written policy that is clear and about which the employees are made aware.  Employers should also ensure that managers and supervisors are trained on the proper handling of employee complaints.
  • A COVID-19 vaccinated workforce does not justify relaxing COVID-19 safety policies. OSHA expressed concerns about the uncertainties of vaccinated employees exposing others to the virus and new COVID-19 strains.  Therefore, employers should continue to enforce their COVID-19 policies in the workplace until such time as OSHA provides further guidance on this issue.


Employers should monitor the OSHA website for updates and guidance because COVID-19 remains a focus for OSHA.  Please contact a member of our Labor & Employment Section with any questions.


  • The Supreme Court of the United States Blocks OSHA’S ETS Regarding Vaccines but Enforces CMS MandateRead more


  • Bugbee & Conkle Proudly Welcomes The 2021 Solheim Cup to ToledoRead more

Newsletter Signup

Signup here to be added to receive our quarterly publications Safety Sense, The Employer, and Comp Connection, as well as webinar and event invitations.