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OSHA Update: COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard in Health Care

OSHA Update: COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard in Health Care
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On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). The ETS were developed to protect health care and health care support service workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19 in settings where people with COVID-19 are reasonably expected to be present. The ETS will likely become effective as soon as it is published in the Federal Register. 

Covered employers include hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, emergency responders; home health care workers; and employees in ambulatory care settings where suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients are treated.

ETS Requirements

The ETS requires covered health care employers (as described above) to develop and implement a COVID-19 plan to identify and control COVID-19 hazards in their respective workplaces.  Covered employees must also implement other requirements to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. Requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • health screenings
  • personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • controls for aerosol-generating procedures
  • physical distancing
  • cleaning and disinfection protocols
  • ventilation standards and employee training

If necessary, OSHA will update the standard to align with CDC guidelines and changes for the pandemic.

ETS Exemptions

Fully vaccinated workers are exempt from masking, distancing, and barrier requirements in well-defined areas where there is no reasonable expectation that any person will be present with suspected or confirmed infection of coronavirus.

Employee Vaccination

The standard encourages vaccinations by requiring employers to provide reasonable time off and paid leave for employees to receive vaccinations and recover from any side effects.

Respiratory Program

The ETS also encourages respirators when used in lieu of required facemasks. This includes a mini respiratory program that applies to such usage.

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Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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