News & Insights

Osha Issues Emergency Temporary Standard For Covid 19 For Healthcare Employees

On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published an Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) limited to employers in the healthcare section for COVID-19.  OSHA has the authority to issue an ETS without utilizing the regular rulemaking process if it determines that (1) workers are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful, or from new hazards; and (2) an ETS is necessary to protect workers from that danger. 

The ETS is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register and has been added to the General Industry standards at 29 C.F.R. § 1910.500. Covered employers must comply with most provisions within 14 days, and with provisions involving physical barriers, ventilation, and training within 30 days. OSHA will use its enforcement discretion for employers who are making a good faith effort to comply with the ETS.

Covered employers with more than ten employees will be required to develop and implement written COVID-19 plans. The ETS requires covered employers to develop and implement a COVID-19 plan which includes a designated safety coordinator; provide some employees with N95 respirators or other personal protective equipment; provide workers with paid time off to get vaccinated and to recover from side effects; and require that employees who have COVID-19 or who might be contagious work remotely, be separated from other workers, or be given paid time off up to $1,400 per week.

OSHA also issued an updated guidance for employers not covered by the ETS focused on protecting unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers. These guidelines are voluntary. However, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. All employers, especially those in healthcare, should take steps to make sure they are in compliance with Federal guidelines in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.