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The First Step to Surviving an OSHA Inspection: Know Your Local Emphasis Programs

Toby Graham /
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There’s a reason so many organizations dread visits from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. When an OSHA compliance officer arrives at your facility, any and all potential safety hazards are on the table. There’s no inspection checklist you can follow along with, no stock set of “correct” answers you can provide. 

To avoid a citation—and the associated fines and heightened compliance costs—you’ll need to do OSHA’s job before they can. You’ll need to think like an inspector and proactively identify and correct all workplace issues, starting with the regulatory priorities outlined in OSHA’s National and Local Emphasis Programs.

So cautions Hannah Crawford, KPA regulatory analyst and environmental health and safety consultant, and presenter of our How to Survive an OSHA Visit webinar. In the first installment of this series, adapted from that presentation, we featured Hannah’s guidance on OSHA basics, including how the organization operates and what triggers a regulatory visit. This time around, we’ll be digging into OSHA’s many Local Emphasis Programs.

What Is an NEP?

As we explained in Part 1, OSHA considers some issues higher priorities than others. The agency often chooses to designate such as issues as National Emphasis Programs (or NEPs for short). NEPs are “temporary programs that focus OSHA’s resources on particular hazards and high-hazard industries.” 

As of March 2021, there are 10 NEPs in place:

  1. Combustible Dust
  2. Hazardous Machinery
  3. Hexavalent Chromium
  4. Lead
  5. Primary Metal Industries
  6. Process Safety Management (PSM)
  7. Shipbreaking
  8. Silica, Crystalline
  9. Trenching and Excavation
  10. COVID-19

In addition to NEPs, OSHA has a number of Local Emphasis Programs and Regional Emphasis Programs, which the agency’s regional offices follow to address high-priority workforce issues in a given geographic area.

To review LEPs that apply to your business, use our interactive map

Next Steps

Preparation is key, but your actions and decisions during an OSHA visit matter just as much—if not more—than the processes you already have in place. In the next installment in this series, we’ll discuss how to survive an OSHA visit and essential considerations for protecting your business and bottom line.

If you’d rather not wait until then to start safeguarding your organization, ask us for a free, personalized tour of KPA’s EHS compliance platform.  Or ask us about our remote or onsite consulting services

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