On Thursday, June 10, 2021, OSHA released the text of its much-anticipated COVID-19 emergency temporary standard. The ETS is the result of an Executive order signed by President Biden that had required OSHA to determine whether an ETS should be required and, if so, to issue one by March 15, 2021. While OSHA missed the deadline, the text is now available. Compliance with most provisions is required within 14 days following publication in the Federal register, while specific provisions are required within 30 days. The ETS is set to expire 6 months after the issue date where OSHA will then have to determine if this requirement will lapse or become permanent.
This standard will apply only to the healthcare industry. This includes acute care hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, doctor’s offices, emergency services, outpatient settings, clinics – including clinics staffed by a licensed healthcare provider, but embedded in non-healthcare setting, i.e. schools or manufacturing facility, and healthcare support services (laundry, cafeteria, billing, etc.) IF the support services are inside the healthcare setting. For more detailed information on if your specific workplace(s) are covered, go to OSHA’s fact sheet “Is Your Workplace Covered by the ETS”.
Prevention Plan Elements
• Identify a workplace coordinator
• Hazard assessment for potential exposure – include non-management employees
• Identify measures that limit the spread to include engineering controls, policies, and PPE
• Method of screening and managing patients with COVID-19
• Policies for COVID-19 vaccination – Provide reasonable time and paid leave for vaccinations and vaccine side effects
• Policies for and method of screening and managing employees with COVID-19
– Employees must promptly notify employer if positive
– Employer establishes a COVID-19 log (all exposures, not just occupational)
– Identify how workplace tracing will occur to include notifications of close contacts
– Employees to be paid (subject to a cap) when removed from the workplace due to a COVID-19 – for quarantine, isolation, or for testing
• Develop & Implement policies & procedures to adhere to CDC guidelines
• Provide and ensure employees wear PPE
• Implement Process for aerosol-generating procedures to include
– Limit staff
– Identify appropriate level of PPE
– If available, use AIIR
– Clean and disinfect surfaces & equipment in room following procedure
• Keep people 6 feet apart when indoors – EXCEPT during hands-on patient care
• Utilize physical barriers when physical distancing is not an option
• Ensure proper ventilation – 30 days to comply – see also “CDC’s Ventilation Guidance”
• Training (can count prior training already completed) – must be interactive and allow for questions. Must include the following:
– Disease transmission
– High-risk tasks
– Employer policies & procedures
– PPE required to include how to don & doff, clean & disinfect, and when to change
– Employee rights & anti-retaliation language
Mini Respiratory Protection Program – 1910.504
Narrow in scope and applies to areas where respirators are being used in lieu of face masks and how to use appendix D.
• Fatalities – removed the 30 days after exposure. Must call OSHA within 8 hours of any employee COVID-19 related death regardless of how many days lapse after the exposure.
• Hospitalization – removed the 24 hours after exposure. Must call OSHA within 24 hours of any employee COVID-19 related hospitalization regardless of how many days lapse after the exposure.
In future blog posts, we will take a few of these elements one-by-one to dig deeper into the new requirements.