Department of Labor (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect healthcare
workers from contracting COVID-19, which went into effect June 21.
care ETS aims to protect workers facing the highest coronavirus risk, settings
where suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients are treated. This
includes employees in hospitals, skilled nursing homes, and assisted
living facilities; emergency responders; home health care
workers; and employees in ambulatory care settings. There are
some exemptions for healthcare providers who screen out patients who may have
COVID-19. The new mandatory safety rules
will only apply to health care settings, while all other businesses may follow OSHA’s
optional safety guidelines.
The new standards for
health care would, among other requirements, mandate that health care employers
provide respirators to employees working with COVID patients, establish a COVID
response plan, screen employees and patients for the virus, record employee
cases, and provide training on COVID risks at work. OSHA
will update the standards, if necessary, to align with CDC guidelines and
changes in the pandemic.
The ETS is
effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Employers must
comply with most provisions within 14 days and with the remaining provisions
within 30 days. OSHA will use its enforcement discretion to avoid
citing employers who miss a compliance deadline but are making a good
faith effort to comply with the ETS. Learn more about the rule.