Safety and OSHA News

What would emergency OSHA infectious disease reg look like?

Some members of Congress and professional associations have called on OSHA to initiate an emergency, temporary infectious disease regulation due to the coronavirus pandemic. What could an emergency regulation include? 

One way to find out is to look at one state’s rule that already exists and at the rulemaking that was started on a permanent infectious disease regulation back in 2015, according to Adele Abrams, occupational health and safety attorney, in a Premiere Learning Solutions webinar.

California’s rule

California’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard contains requirements for protecting employees from diseases and pathogens transmitted by aerosols.

COVID-19 is an airborne infectious disease covered by the ATD.

CalOSHA’s ATD Standard applies to:

  • hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, medical offices, outpatient medical facilities, home health care, long-term healthcare facilities, hospices, medical outreach services, medical transport and emergency medical services
  • certain laboratories, public health services and police services that are reasonably anticipated to expose employees to an aerosol transmissible disease, and
  • correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and drug treatment programs.

CalOSHA’s ATD standard requires covered employers to protect employees from airborne infectious diseases and COVID-19 through effective:

  • written ATD exposure control plan and procedures
  • training
  • engineering and work practice controls
  • personal protective equipment
  • medical services including vaccination and infection determination and treatment, and
  • laboratory operation requirements.

Proposal that was in pipeline

In 2015, federal OSHA started the process of developing an infectious disease regulation. Since then, development on the standard has been back-burnered.

Under what was initially proposed, an employer would need to develop and implement a worker infection control plan (WICP) for its facility that would:

  • Identify the potential sources of infection in the facility
  • Consider which employees are exposed to those sources of infection and develop precautions for those employees to follow to avoid infection
  • Designate a responsible administrator
  • Update the WICP at least annually, and whenever necessary (e.g., new job procedures)
  • Determine how contractors, vendors, and licensed independent medical practitioners who operate in the employer’s facility can adhere to infection control practices that are consistent with the employer’s plan, and
  • Develop, implement, and update written SOPs that are consistent with recognized and generally accepted good infection control practices.

We’ll keep you updated on whether federal OSHA moves toward an emergency standard.

Need more information?

The Adele Abrams Premier Leaning Solutions workshopCoronavirus in the Workplace: Employers’ Duty to Protect Employees, also covers:

  • OSHA’s requirements for protecting against infectious diseases
  • disease prevention and control best practices for employers, and
  • employer responsibility for employee protection: What you need to know.

Click here for more information.

Premiere Leaning Solutions is also offering another webinarCoronavirus & Remote Work: Pivoting from Bricks to Clicks. Get the tools and information you need to help your organization make the leap from having employees work in the office to working remotely from home. Minimize downtime, anxiety and productivity loss.

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