As many of you are aware, on Thursday, June 10, 2021, OSHA released the text of its much-anticipated COVID-19 emergency temporary standard which will apply only to the healthcare industry and in healthcare settings. On June 21, 2021, the standard was published in the Federal Register. For more details on whether this applies to you go to OSHA’s fact sheet “Is Your Workplace Covered by the ETS”.
In this edition, we will review the new requirements related screening of employees, paid leave for employees who have been medically removed from the workplace, who are being tested for COVID-19, who are receiving the vaccine, or who have adverse reactions to the vaccine and cannot return to work immediately. Compliance with these portions is required within 14 days following publication in the Federal Register (July 6, 2021).
- Employees must be screened before each workday and each shift. Self-monitoring is acceptable.
- If a COVID-19 test is required as part of screening, the employer must provide the test at no cost.
Exposure Notification & Tracing 1910.502(I)(3)
Within 24 hours of notice that a COVID-19 positive person has been in the workplace the employer must
- Notify each employee who was within close contact and not wearing a respirator or other required PPE.
- Notify all employees who were within that portion of the workplace who were not wearing a respirator or other required PPE during the potential transmission period (2 days prior to person feeling sick or prior to test collection for asymptomatic people until the time the person is isolated).
- Notify other employers whose employees were either in close contact or worked within that area and were not wearing a respirator or other required PPE during the transmission period.
- Notification must include the date(s) of contact.
- Notification must not include the COVID-19+ person’s name or contact information.
- This notification is excluded for a patient with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in an area where services are normally provided to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients (e.g., emergency rooms, urgent care facilities, COVID-19 testing sites, COVID-19 wards/units in hospitals)
Medical Removal 1910.502(I)(4) & Medical Removal Protection Benefits 1910.502(I)(5)
If an employee has been exposed in the workplace, they must be medically removed for 14 days unless
- The employee is fully vaccinated.
- The employee recently recovered from having COVID-19 (within the past 3 months).
- Employee tests on day 5 following exposure and is negative – can come back on day 7.
While an employee is on medical removal, they will receive the following benefits:
- Employers with less than 500 employees
- Extend employee pay up to a $1,400/week cap.
- Beginning the 3rd week of removal, the amount is reduced to two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay up to $200/day cap.
- Employers with more than 500 employees
- Extend employee pay up to a $1,400/week cap until employee can return to work.
- The employer’s payment obligation is reduced by the amount the employee receives from any other source – paid sick leave, paid administrative leave, etc..
The employer must support COVID-19 vaccination by providing reasonable time and paid leave to each employee for vaccination and any side effects following vaccination.