The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has submitted for publication an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for occupational exposure to COVID-19. The ETS requires certain healthcare employers to establish protections for their workers in settings where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated, with exemptions including:
• Well-defined hospital ambulatory care settings where all employees are fully vaccinated, all non-employees are screened prior to entry and people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not permitted to enter those settings.
• Non-hospital ambulatory care settings where all non-employees are screened prior to entry and people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not permitted to enter those settings;
screen is defined in the rule as “asking questions to determine whether a person is COVID-19 positive or has symptoms of COVID-19.”
The ETS will require non-exempt facilities to conduct a hazard assessment and to develop and implement a written plan to mitigate virus spread. It also addresses issues such as screening and managing individuals entering the healthcare setting; provision of personal protective equipment; physical distancing and barriers; cleaning and disinfection; ventilation; aerosol-generating procedures on persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19; screening and management of employees with confirmed or suspected infection; paid leave for employee vaccinations and vaccine side effects; and employee training, record keeping, reporting and anti-retaliation requirements.
Covered employees who have coronavirus or who may be contagious must work remotely or otherwise be separated from other workers, if possible, or be given paid time off up to $1,400 per week. For most businesses with fewer than 500 employees, tax credits in the American Rescue Plan may be reimbursed through these provisions
The ETS will become effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Affected 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.
For more information contact Gloria Romanelli, JD, ACR Senior Director, Legislative and Regulatory Relations.