OSHA said it will prioritize work site inspections of healthcare facilities over other "essential" businesses that remain open during the coronavirus outbreak.
OSHA announced an interim response plan that provides instructions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports.
During the coronavirus outbreak, OSHA Area Offices will utilize their inspection resources to fulfill mission essential functions and protect workers exposed to the disease, says a release. The response plan contains interim procedures that allow flexibility and discretion for field offices to maximize OSHA's impact in securing safe workplaces, it says.
“OSHA is committed to protecting the health and safety of America's workers during this challenging time in our nation's history,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt said. “Today's guidance outlines commonsense procedures for investigating complaints related to the coronavirus, while also ensuring the safety of workers, employers, and inspectors.”
The response plan outlines procedures for addressing reports of workplace hazards related to the coronavirus. Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the coronavirus will be prioritized for on-site inspections. The response plan contains procedures and sample documentation for CSHOs to use during coronavirus-related inspections. 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 will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. It is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis.