In a news release on June 10, 2021, OSHA announced an emergency temporary standard (ETS) on COVID-19 to protect healthcare workers from contracting the disease, focusing on those most likely to have contact with someone infected.
“This standard is necessary to give our healthcare workers deeply needed protections,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. “This tailored standard allows OSHA to help the workers most in danger of contracting the virus, while the updated guidance will give other businesses across the country the information they need to help protect unvaccinated workers and continue mitigating spread in the workplace.”
The ETS establishes new requirements for “settings where employees provide healthcare or healthcare support services, including skilled nursing homes and home healthcare.” Some exemptions apply.
The standard will require:
- non-exempt facilities to conduct a hazard assessment and have a written plan to mitigate virus spread, and requires healthcare employers to provide some employees with N95 respirators or other personal protective equipment. In addition, covered employers must ensure 6 feet of distance between workers. In situations where this is not possible, employers should erect barriers between employees where feasible.
- covered employees to provide workers with paid time off to get vaccinated and to recover from any side effects. 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.
Refer to the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard website for more details and resources on this rule, such as:
- Flowchart to help employers determine if their workplace is covered by the ETS
- Fact Sheet on the Standard
- Mini Respiratory Protection Program
Plus you’ll find tools to help you implement the ETS.
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 also updated its guidance for workplaces not covered by the standard. That guidance focuses on protections for unvaccinated or other at-risk employees.