On March 12, 2021, OSHA announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) targeting healthcare practices just like yours. The Agency generated a random list of offices for surprise COVID-19 inspections, and inspectors are now showing up to look for safety violations – which carry severe fines. OSHA COVID-19 inspections.
To avoid fines for COVID-19 OSHA safety violations, you must be completely prepared should an OSHA inspector walk in your door. By understanding how OSHA’s NEP works, and exactly what to do and say, your practice can stop inspectors in their tracks. OSHA COVID-19 inspections.
How the NEP Works OSHA COVID-19 inspections
A NEP is commonly used when OSHA identifies a hazard that requires heightened enforcement (like COVID-19). The program augments OSHA’s efforts with responding to complaints, referrals and severe incident reports, by adding a component targeting specific high-hazard industries or activities where the COVID-19 hazard is considered prevalent.
Since healthcare is considered a high-hazard industry, practices are being targeted. You won’t have the luxury of knowing whether or not you’re on the list. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong and there’s been no complaint, an inspector can come knocking at your door.
Luckily, there are actions you can take to avoid an inspection if your practice is targeted.
What to Do/Say to Stop an Inspection
The National Emphasis Program instructs each inspector to verify that there actually is a COVID-19 issue at your practice. To do this, the inspector will review your injury and illness logs and your recorded COVID-19 cases to determine whether you have a COVID-19 exposure at your office. He’ll be focused on data, but he may talk to employees as well.
If the data shows there is no current COVID-19 issue, then the inspector is instructed not to proceed with the inspection. Having compliant, up-to-date safety controls in place is crucial because it gives you the ability to say, “I know I’m on your target list because of my industry, but I can prove to you that we don’t have a COVID-19 situation.”
So, instead of the inspector spending hours at your office looking for violations, he can move on to someone else on the list who might have a current COVID-19 issue. According to healthcare attorney and Training Leader expert, Matthew Deffebach, JD, you need to be aware of your ability to speak up and stop the inspection. Be sure the OSHA point person on your staff is aware of this vital information. This is a unique feature of the NEP that actually allows you to bypass the inspection.
To stop a surprise OSHA inspection and the costly fines that go with it, you must understand how OSHA’s NEP works and exactly what to do and say to stop an inspection at your practice. OSHA inspectors are advised per the NEP to review all the available guidance on COVID-19, including the latest from the CDC and of course, OSHA’s own guidance, which you can find on the Agency’s website. You need to ensure all OSHA standards are adhered to including the General Duty Clause.
This is where healthcare attorney and OSHA expert, Matthew Deffebach, JD, can help. In his 90-minute online training, New 2021 OSHA COVID-19 Rules: Prepare for Surprise Inspections, Matt walks you through exactly what to expect during a surprise OSHA COVID-19 inspection. This expert-led training will take you through every aspect of the inspection process, so you and your employees are completely prepared and can protect your practice. Registration for this must-attend training is open. Sign up now!
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