On March 22, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) partially reopened the comment period to allow for additional public comment on specific topics covered by its proposed final standard to protect healthcare workers from workplace exposure to COVID-19.
On June 21, 2021, OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS), which also served as the proposed rule, entitled “Occupational Exposure to COVID-19.” The ETS focused on healthcare workers most likely to have contact with people infected with the virus. OSHA is now reopening the record to allow for new data and comments on the following topics in order to promulgate a final standard:
- Alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 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.
- The potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2 into a second novel strain.
- The health effects and risk of COVID-19 since the ETS was issued.
OSHA will hold a virtual hearing regarding its final rule beginning on April 27. As OSHA works towards a permanent rule, employers must continue to comply with existing obligations as well as other applicable OSHA standards to protect their employees against COVID-19 in the workplace. The attorneys at Murtha Cullina remain ready to advise on these and other issues.