New OSHA Program to Protect High-Risk Workers from Coronavirus

March 15, 2021

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a national emphasis program focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of employees at serious risk of contracting COVID-19.

OSHA’s new initiative is in response to an executive order from U.S. President Joe Biden on worker health and safety. The program also prioritizes penalties against organizations that retaliate against employees for complaints of unhealthy or unsafe working conditions. OSHA will enforce the program through enhanced monitoring and inspections.

“This deadly pandemic has taken a staggering toll on U.S. workers and their families. We have a moral obligation to do what we can to protect workers, especially for the many who have no other protection,” said Jim Frederick, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “This program seeks to substantially reduce or eliminate coronavirus exposure for workers in companies where risks are high, and to protect workers who raise concerns that their employer is failing to protect them from the risks of exposure.”