October 27, 2020
- MEMORANDUM FOR:
- REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS
- LOREN SWEATT
PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY
- Temporary Revision to Policy Impacting Conducting Remote Audits of Satellite Notification and Acceptance Program sites within Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories
This memorandum establishes a temporary policy allowing for remote assessments of locations approved for the Satellite Notification and Acceptance Program (SNAP) within Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) due to the travel and safety limitations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This temporary policy is effective immediately and will be in effect until such time as OSHA notifies the public that it is rescinding the policy.
OSHA’s NRTL Program permits a number of supplemental programs that use the services of other facilities to test and certify the safety of products used in the workplace. One of these programs, the Satellite Notification and Acceptance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Program 10, became effective on May 11, 2009 (see 74 FR 923). To use this supplemental program, a NRTL must receive approval from OSHA before this program can be added to the NRTL scope of recognition. Under current audit policy for SNAP, NRTLs must:
- “perform an initial [on-site] audit to qualify a site for the SNAP;” and
- “perform a minimum of two [on-site] audits of each SNAP site on a yearly (12-month) cycle, provided that each audit reviews all of the site’s SNAP operations, both technical (e.g., staff competence, equipment, facilities) and programmatic (e.g., quality-control procedures, internal audits, control of the certification mark).”
- “perform a minimum of one [on-site] audit of the SNAP site, provided that the audit reviews all of a SNAP sites testing activities” (see 74 FR at 925) if the site only performs SNAP product testing and no “SNAP function.”.
Impact of COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends, and several State and local governments have ordered, social distancing and limited travel to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, countries throughout the world have closed borders and placed restrictions on international flights, limiting the ability to travel abroad. In many cases, following these travel restrictions does not permit physical on-site assessments.
Temporary NRTL SNAP Assessment Policy
With this memorandum, OSHA establishes a Temporary NRTL SNAP Assessment Policy to help minimize exposures to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Under the temporary policy, NRTLs may perform remote assessments of each individual SNAP site in lieu of performing the on-site assessments that would otherwise be required under SNAP, but only if the NRTL meets the following two conditions:
- The NRTL must ensure that, in following this temporary policy, it maintains the minimum performance standards for acceptance into, and continued operation of, SNAP, including, for example, that the NRTL has “operational and administrative control over [its] SNAP site[s] or the functions performed on behalf of the NRTL at the site[s]” (see 74 FR at 925); and
- The NRTL must maintain a list of all remote SNAP assessments performed during the period this temporary policy is in effect, and make this record available to OSHA upon request.
Examples of methods NRTLs may use to conduct remote assessments while this temporary policy is in effect include desk audits to review documents and procedures, web conferencing, and live video of SNAP sites.
It should be noted that in a February 10, 2020 Federal Register Notice, OSHA proposed a policy for transitioning to SNAP termination, the conversion of existing SNAP sites to Recognized Sites, and the interim performance of SNAP activities at SNAP sites (85 FR 7606 (available at https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/laws-regs/federalregister/2020-02-10_0.pdf). OSHA is currently working on finalizing that proposed policy. The sole aim of the temporary policy OSHA implements in this memorandum is to allow NRTLs, under certain defined circumstances, to perform remote assessments of each individual SNAP site in lieu of performing the on-site assessments that would otherwise be required under SNAP. This temporary policy would not modify or affect the SNAP transition policy OSHA is currently contemplating. Thus, for example, this temporary policy should not be read to mean that NRTLs could continue performing SNAP activities at SNAP sites beyond the time specifically permitted by a final SNAP transition policy, nor should it be read to overrule a final policy addressing NRTLs not designating any new SNAP sites.
If you have any questions regarding this temporary policy, please contact Charles Haggins, Acting Director Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities at 202-693-2110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.