OSHA Publishes National Standards

On June 21, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), setting forth requirements that healthcare employers must comply with in the workplace. The ETS specifically covers entities that employ workers to provide healthcare services (e.g. doctors, nurses, emergency medical personnel, oral health professionals) or healthcare support services (e.g. patient intake/admission, patient food services, healthcare laundry services).  Additionally, the ETS provides a list of services, such as first aid care provided by non-licensed healthcare provider, that are specifically excluded from its scope.

Employers must comply with most provisions of the ETS by July 5, 2021, and the provisions involving physical barriers, training, and ventilation by July 21, 2021. The ETS can be found at 29 CFR 1910.502-509.

Employers subject to the ETS are required to:

  • Develop an effective COVID-19 plan (1910.502(c));
  • Implement patient screening and management strategies (1910.502(d));
  • Adhere to CDC’s guidelines on standard and transmission-based precautions (1910.502(e));
  • Provide employees personal protective equipment (PPE), including facemasks  (1910.502(f));
  • Comply with aerosol-generating procedures (1910.502(g));
  • Require physical distancing in the workplace (1910.502(h));
  • Install physical barriers in non-patient care areas where physical distancing is not feasible  (1910.502(i));
  • Adhere to cleaning and disinfection standards based upon CDC guidelines (1910.502(j));
  • Use their HVAC systems per manufacturers’ instructions and design specifications. Air filters must have a rating of MERV 13 or higher (1910.502k));
  • Implement health screening and medical management measures (1910.502(l));
  • Provide reasonable paid time off to employees for vaccinations and vaccines side effects (1910.502 (m));
  • Train employees on workplace COVID-19 policies and procedures (1902.502(n));
  • Not retaliate against employees for exercising their rights under the ETS (1910.502(o));
  • Implement ETS requirements at no cost to employees  (1910.502(p));
  • Adhere to recordkeeping requirements (1910.502(q));
  • Report to OSHA work-related COVID-19 fatalities and in-patient hospitalization  (1910.502(r)).

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