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OSHA’s COVID-19 Healthcare ETS: The Brass Tacks

A new Emergency Temporary Standard is set to impact over 10 million healthcare workers. See who is affected and what changes to expect.

June 21, 2021

OSHA recently issued a nationwide healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that is estimated to impact over 10 million healthcare workers. “Some of the requirements were already in practice by many in healthcare,” says Vik Ramaswamy, Senior Risk Control Manager. “However, new additions like providing paid time off so employees can vaccinate, and offering guidelines on where workers must isolate in case of infection, does break new ground.”

Who is Impacted and Who Is Excluded?

The standard applies to all employees that provide healthcare or healthcare support services, except for:

  • Those providing first aid
  • Retail pharmacists dispensing prescriptions
  • Ambulatory care settings where non-employees are screened and turned away if they have symptoms
  • Homecare workers subject to the above screening requirements
  • Healthcare support or telehealth services performed outside of a clinical setting and with no direct patient interaction

Changes to Your Existing COVID-19 Plan

Employers with ten or more workers will be required to have a written COVID-19 plan for each worksite, specifying a “COVID-19 safety coordinator,” knowledgeable in infection control practices that will have authority over implementing the plan. The plan will need to be updated and changed to ensure effectiveness. This plan will also need to include policies and procedures for:

  • Limiting and monitoring entryways
  • Providing and enforcing proper PPE
  • Performing aerosol-generating procedures in airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIRs) and limit these rooms to essential staff only
  • Maintaining six feet of physical distancing and establishing barriers where distancing is not feasible
  • Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces daily
  • Ensuring that the site’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is clean and functioning properly, using air filters with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating of 13 or higher

Additionally, employers will be required to:

  • Maintain a confidential COVID-19 log where any positive or symptomatic employees are documented within 24 hours of notification, irrespective of workplace exposure or not
  • Document site-specific hazard assessments with respect to COVID-19 transmission in conjunction with non-management employees
  • Require employees to report any positive, suspect or symptomatic COVID-19 testing statuses, and notify all potentially exposed employees not wearing respirators two days prior to a reported status
  • Provide procedures for removal of positive or suspected positive employees from premises
  • Provide paid time off for employees to vaccinate and weather side effects
  • Train all employees on the plan specifics, procedures and disease transmission in their language

To read OSHA’s ETS in full, click here.