On March 12, OSHA issued a COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (NEP) targeting specific high-hazard industries or activities where workers have an increased potential exposure to COVID. The NEP also seeks to ensure that workers are protected from retaliation through prevention and distributing anti-retaliation information during inspections. NEPs are temporary programs that focus OSHA's resources on particular hazards and high-hazard industries concentrating on inspection and enforcement. OSHA currently has more than a dozen NEPs in place including on combustible dust, hazardous machinery, lead, primary metals and now COVID.
This March 12 NEP includes most manufacturing, including the industrial heating industry, on the secondary target list among essential critical infrastructure covered by the NEP. This is only an enforcement of current rules action as employers continue to wait for OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard, which would create new requirements and was expected by March 15. Sources in Washington indicate OSHA continues to develop the ETS with a release now expected in April.