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COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard: OSHA acts to ensure continued protection of healthcare employees

By: Cristina N. Hyde, JD

On June 21, 2021, OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)   was published in the Federal Register.  Fueled by concerns over divergent approaches to workplace safety taken by state and local governments, the healthcare industry specific regulations were issued in conjunction with updated guidance  for other industries.

The ETS is intended to universally protect healthcare workers most in danger of contracting COVID-19 by creating a Federal standard.  The regulations provide increased protections for high risk individuals working in settings where patients are either suspected of or confirmed to have coronavirus.

The ETS became effective upon publication and defines a 14-day window for compliance with most of its mandates.  Among them, the requirement that covered employers develop and implement a COVID-19 plan that includes a workplace-specific hazard assessment and a designated safety coordinator with the authority to ensure compliance.  Other key requirements include:

  • Development and implementation of procedures for patient screening and management.
  • Development and implementation of policies and procedures to adhere to Standard and Transmission-Based precautions based on CDC guidelines.
  • Development and implementation of policies and procedures related to personal protective equipment.
  • Development and implementation of standard practices related to cleaning and disinfection.

Additional provisions involving physical barriers, ventilation and training have been assigned a 30-day compliance period.  Also, some requirements are only applicable to workplaces with more than 10 employees and specific exemptions exist for certain workplaces with fully vaccinated employees.  The ETS intentionally encourages vaccination by requiring employers to provide paid time off for vaccination and vaccine side effects.

To assist employers with compliance OSHA’s website  contains several helpful resources including a flow chart designed to clarify whether or not a workplace is affected.

Campanella Law Office will continue to monitor and provide updates on OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS as necessary. We will also address the updated guidance for other industries in a separate post.  For specific questions related to your business or for more information, please Contact Us.

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