U.S. Electronics Industry May See Increased Workplace Inspections as Part of COVID-19 National Emphasis Program

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (NEP) to significantly reduce or eliminate worker exposures to SARS-CoV-2 by targeting industries and worksites where employees may have a high frequency of close contact exposures.

The NEP sets goals for inspections of workplaces in selected industries and it includes an added focus to ensure workers are protected from any whistleblower retaliation. Industry code (NAICS) and elevated illness rates as indicated by required reporting will be used to determine site selection for programmed inspections. Inspections began March 26, 2021 and the NEP is effective for no more than 12 months unless canceled or extended.

The primary target industries include those where OSHA data shows the highest number of workers expected to perform tasks associated with exposures to SARS-CoV-2, such as healthcare industries, meat slaughtering and processing, supermarkets and grocery stores, and restaurants. OSHA anticipates that most of the inspections will continue to occur in general industry, particularly in healthcare, based on current OSHA enforcement data that show higher COVID-19-related complaints, referrals and severe incident reports at healthcare worksites.

The secondary target industries, a list that supplements the primary list, includes NAICS codes for essential critical infrastructure workers, apart from healthcare. NAICS 334xxx, computer and electronic product manufacturing, and NAICS 335xxx, electrical equipment, appliance, and component manufacturing, are both listed on the secondary list. These secondary target industries, and approximately three dozen others, maintain critical business operations or would otherwise help to maintain a healthy work environment, and are likely to be at increased risk of exposure.

For information on the NEP and the inspections, read more here.  For timelines, see here.

The NEP is a separate effort from OSHA’s  Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which is expected to be released soon in accordance with an executive order from U.S. President Biden. IPC will continue to keep you posted on these agency actions.