OSHA Is Taking Additional Comments on a Proposed COVID Healthcare Standard
Back in June 2021, OSHA issued a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard for healthcare employers that was then withdrawn in December (as we discussed in our December 2021 E-Update), with its six-month duration acting as a comment period for a possible final rule. In the aftermath of its unsuccessful attempt to implement a general COVID-19 ETS (the Vax-or-Test rule for larger employers), OSHA asserted that it was focusing on a permanent COVID-19 healthcare standard. It has now announced that it is scheduling an informal hearing and reopening the comment period on its ETS to solicit additional information on the following issues:
- 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.
The public may submit through April 22, 2022 written comments here, referencing Docket No. OSHA-2020-0004. They may also submit a notice of intention to appear and provide verbal testimony at the hearing that begins on April 27, 2022 and, if necessary, will continue on subsequent days. OSHA reminds employers that, until a final rule is issued, they must comply with existing standards including the General Duty Clause.