NV OSHA Adopts Statewide COVID-19 “Emphasis Program”
April 15, 2021
As a result of President Biden’s January order to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Nevada OSHA has adopted a statewide “Emphasis Program” to supplement the agency’s existing COVID-19 mitigation and enforcement efforts. This program may result in an immediate uptick in NV OSHA inspections for certain employers.
The Emphasis Program “targets establishments that have workers with increased potential exposure” to COVID-19, i.e., those working in “high-hazard industries.” The goal of the program is “to significantly reduce or eliminate worker exposures to [COVID-19] by targeting industries and worksites where employees may have a high frequency of close contact exposures and therefore, controlling the health hazards associated with such exposures.” This goal will be accomplished “by a combination of inspection targeting, outreach to employers, and compliance assistance.”
Nevada’s Emphasis Program identifies “primary target industries” and “secondary target industries.” Primary targets include health care, meat processing, grocery stores and discount department stores, general warehousing and storage, and restaurants; secondary targets include construction, manufacturing, food and beverage stores, general merchandise stores, transit and transportation, gaming, and certain repair and maintenance employers. The program allows Nevada OSHA to “realign inspection resources in a manner that will protect the largest number of workers likely to be exposed to COVID-19 based on their job duties.” While inspections would normally be delayed for a 90-day outreach period, NV OSHA has determined that because outreach has occurred throughout the pandemic, area offices may immediately begin inspections under the Emphasis Program.
The Emphasis Program also stresses an “added focus” on retaliation. Nevada OSHA will seek to prevent retaliation where possible “by distributing anti-retaliation information during inspections, and outreach opportunities, as well as promptly referring allegations of retaliation to the Whistleblower Protection Program.”
We encourage all employers to carefully review Nevada’s Emphasis Program to determine whether your industry is a primary or secondary target and to ensure your workplace is prepared for inspections. KZA attorneys are available to assist you in this endeavor.
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