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OSHA Targets Home Health Care on COVID-19 Compliance

OSHA Targets Home Health Care on COVID-19 Compliance

OSHA Targets Home Health Care on COVID-19 Compliance

Courtesy of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has begun implementing a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to ensure that employees in high hazard industries or work tasks are protected from the danger of contracting the novel coronavirus COVID-19, in a development that could impact home health providers.

The NEP augments OSHA’s efforts addressing unprogrammed COVID-19-related activities (e.g., complaints, referrals, and severe incident reports) by adding a component to target specific high-hazard industries or activities where this hazard is prevalent. The NEP targets establishments that have workers with increased potential exposure to this hazard, and that puts the largest number of workers at serious risk. In addition, this NEP includes an added focus to ensure that workers are protected from retaliation, and are accomplishing this by preventing retaliation where possible, distributing anti-retaliation information during inspections, and outreach opportunities, as well as promptly referring allegations of retaliation to the Whistleblower Protection Program.

The NEP is in response to President Biden’s executive order that directed the Secretary of Labor, acting through the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, to launch a national program to focus OSHA enforcement efforts related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on hazardous conditions.

In Appendix A of the NEP directive, OSHA lists the targeted Industries in Healthcare subject to the NEP and Home Health Care Services is included as one of the targeted industries.

Although the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is not aware of any agency that has been subject to a COVID-related OSHA inspection, all HHAs should review their workplace policies and procedures to assure they are following both the OSHA Guidance for Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace for office staff and the various guidance from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) for protecting staff in the field.

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