OSHA issued guidance June 28 on its COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) instructing compliance safety and health officers (CSHO) on how to best work the standard’s directives into inspections.
The ETS, which was published in the Federal Register June 21, is specific to the healthcare industry, and the inspection guidance establishes enforcement procedures for CSHOs conducting investigations at healthcare facilities.
According to the inspection guidance, here are some things to expect during an investigation:
- The CSHO will request a facility’s injury and illness logs (OSHA 300, 301 and OSHA 300A) for calendar years 2020 and 2021 to identify work-related cases of COVID-19. They’ll also request the COVID-19 log and inquire whether employees are aware of any recent cases among fellow employees.
- A facility’s COVID-19 plan will be requested for review.
- The CSHO will need to review documentation to determine if a hazard assessment was conducted.
- Administrative and engineering control measures for physical distancing will be reviewed.
- Employee medical records and other documentation relating to COVID-19 exposure will be requested.
- The CSHO will want to review the respiratory protection program and any modifications made to respirator policies related to COVID-19.
- Any employee training records relating to COVID-19 will be reviewed.
- Documented efforts to obtain PPE and maintain PPE supplies will be requested.
- The CSHO will want documentation regarding maintenance and use of engineering controls such as HVAC systems.
- If the facility has airborne infection isolation rooms or areas, the CSHO will need to gather information about them and whether the facility uses air pressure monitoring systems and periodic testing procedures. They’ll also want information on procedures for assigning patients to these rooms or areas.
- Procedures for accepting COVID-19 patients transferring from other facilities will be reviewed.
- The CSHO will ask if there is a designated COVID-19 safety coordinator who implements, monitors and reports on the COVID-19 plan.
The guidance notes that employers have latitude in how they determine employee vaccination status, such as verbally asking the employee then documenting the answer or keeping photocopies of vaccination cards.
Depending on the documentation, the CSHO may need to have a Medical Access Order to verify vaccination status of employees.
Further, as part of the overall assessment of a facility’s COVID-19 plan, and particularly in cases where the employer is looking for an exemption, the CSHO will want to interview employees on multiple shifts.
This is so the CSHO can very that the employer assessed the employees’ vaccination status.
CSHOs are also instructed to “inquire about each element of the program and document the employee’s answers to determine whether the employer’s COVID-19 plan follows the prescribed guidelines” outlined in the ETS.