Is Your Practice Impacted by the New OSHA Emergency Requirements for COVID-19 Safety?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) intended to protect health workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19. A flowchart was created to help employers and employees to determine whether a workplace is covered by the ETS. Covered employers must comply with most provisions by July 6, 2021, and the remaining provisions by July 21, 2021. While OSHA may apply penalties to employers for failure to meet the ETS requirements – particularly for willful and egregious violations – OSHA has indicated that it will use its enforcement discretion to avoid citing employers who are making a good faith effort to comply with the ETS.
The ETS includes several requirements for covered healthcare employers, including that they must develop and implement a COVID-19 plan to identify and control COVID-19 hazards in the workplace. They must also implement several additional requirements to reduce transmission, for example, related to patient and employee screening and management, personal protective equipment, physical distancing, ventilation, and more. In addition, covered employers must undertake recordkeeping to log all instances of COVID-19 and report work-related COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities to OSHA within specified timeframes.
Employees are also afforded several rights under the ETS, including but not limited to training on COVID-19 risks and prevention measures, reasonable time and paid leave for vaccination and recovery from side effects, and protection from retaliation.
Certain workplaces and employees are exempt from some or all of the ETS requirements, according to criteria established by OSHA. More information about the ETS is available on the ETS website, including:
Comprehensive information about the ETS requirements can be found in the complete rule.