OSHA has partially reopened rulemaking for development of a final COVID-19 standard for the healthcare industry.
On June 21, 2021, the agency issued its emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect workers in healthcare settings from occupational exposure to COVID-19.
That ETS was officially withdrawn by OSHA on Dec. 22, 2021, as OSHA began working on a broader infectious disease standard.
However, OSHA is reopening the rulemaking record just enough to allow for new data and to seek comment on the following topics:
- alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for healthcare infection control procedures
- additional flexibility for employers
- removal of scope exemptions
- tailoring controls to address interactions with people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19
- employer support for employees who wish to be vaccinated
- limited coverage of construction activities in healthcare settings
- COVID-19 recordkeeping and reporting provisions
- triggering requirements based on community transmission levels
- potential evolution of COVID-19 into a second novel strain
- health effects and risks of COVID-19 since the ETS was issued
While OSHA pursues this rulemaking, the agency states it will continue to use the General Duty Clause and the PPE and respiratory standards to protect healthcare workers.