OSHA’s Acting Director of Enforcement recently sent an Updated Interim Enforcement Plan for COVID-19 to its Area Offices and Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs). This plan is designed to provide guidance to the Compliance Safety and Health Officers to assist them in knowing how to enforce the OSHA requirements set by statute and regulations. This guidance does not create additional employer obligations. It is directed to the CSHOs. However, you, as an employer benefit greatly from an understanding of how the enforcement officers are instructed to view specific scenarios in the workplace so that you may properly prepare your business for any potential inspections.
This Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan replaces the previous plan in its entirety and specifically addresses non-healthcare workplaces that are not covered by OSHA’s June 21, 2021, Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19 – which applies narrowly to healthcare services and healthcare support services.
The Updated Interim Enforcement Plan outlines that the previous policy changes regarding enforcement discretion for periodic respiratory protection equipment shortages and associated constraints (i.e., fit-testing supplies and provision of related services) during the COVID-19 pandemic are changed. OSHA will cease to exercise enforcement discretion for temporary noncompliance with the Respiratory Protection standard based on employers’ claims of supply shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because there are no longer shortages of filtering facepiece respirators (FFR) like N95s, the enforcement discretion policy has been modified. The equivalent respiratory protection provisions of other health standards are to be strictly enforced and the issuance of OSHA’s respiratory protection enforcement discretion memoranda no longer exists. Other changes include:
In advance of any potential OSHA inspection, make sure you understand how the inspector will be viewing your workplace. Prepare accordingly and take this time to make any modifications to your business policies or procedures in accordance with this new enforcement plan.