On April 13, OSHA released its Interim Enforcement Response Plan to protect workers during the COVID-19 epidemic.
“The response plan provides instructions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports,” said OSHA in a press release accompanying the Enforcement Memo.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, OSHA Area Offices will use their inspection resources to fulfill mission-essential functions and protect workers exposed to the disease. The response plan contains interim procedures that allow flexibility and discretion for field offices to maximize OSHA’s impact in securing safe workplaces in this evolving environment.
“Today’s guidance outlines commonsense procedures for investigating complaints related to the coronavirus, while also ensuring the safety of workers, employers, and inspectors,” said Loren Sweatt, OSHA’s principal deputy assistant secretary.
The response plan outlines procedures for addressing reports of workplace hazards related to COVID-19. Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the virus will be prioritized for on-site inspections. The response plan contains procedures and sample documentation to use during COVID-19-related inspections.
The press release stated, “Workers requesting inspections, complaining of coronavirus exposure, or reporting illnesses may be protected under one or more whistleblower statutes and will be informed of their protections from retaliation.”
The memorandum was set up to take place immediately on the day it was released and remain in effect until further notice.
According to the press release, “It is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis.”