On June 9th, 2021 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its interim final rule for the Occupational Exposure to COVID-19; Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The ETS will be effective immediately upon its publication in the Federal Register.
The Emergency Temporary Standard is aimed at healthcare settings where COVID-19 patients are being treated. This includes those employed in hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory care facilities and emergency responders and home healthcare workers. There are some exceptions however, the rule does not apply in settings where all employees are fully vaccinated, and non-employes are screened prior to entry with those suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 are not permitted to enter.
For those employers subject to the guidelines they must implement key requirements with no cost to the employees, such as:
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- Implement a COVID-19 plan. For any employer with more than 10 employees, the plan must include a designated safety coordinator, a workplace specific hazard assessment, as well as policies and procedures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission
- Perform patient screening and management, including monitoring and limiting points of entry, and screening and triaging patients, clients, and visitors.
- Provide PPE to employees and ensure that each employee wears a face mask indoors.In addition, provide respirators and other PPE for workers who may be in contact with individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and for employees involved in aerosol generating procedures.
- Limit personnel during aerosol generating procedures to only essential employees and perform the procedures in an airborne infection isolation room. All surfaces and equipment must be cleaned and disinfected once the procedure is completed.
- Ensure ventilation protocol is met. Existing systems are to be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines and have air filters rated Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 13 or higher.
- Implement distancing of at least six feet apart while indoors. In areas where employees cannot be six feet apart, install cleanable or disposable solid barriers. Uphold cleaning procedures in accordance with the CDC guidelines in patient care areas and rooms for medical devices and equipment. Alcohol based hand cleaner or handwashing facilities must be made available.
- Provide health screenings and medical management at no cost to the employees which include; employee symptom screenings prior to each shift, notifying certain employees within 24 hours if a person who has been in the workplace has tested positive for COVID-19, and providing medical removal protection benefits for employees who must isolate or quarantine.
- Provide reasonable time off for vaccinations as well as time off for any side effects related to the vaccination.
- Provide training to all employees so that they understand COVID-19 transmission and tasks and situations in the workplace that could result in infection, as well as their rights to the protections set by the standard.
- Establish a COVID-19 log of employee instances of COVID-19 if there are more than 10 employees.
- Impose notification requirements in which all work-related COVID-19 fatalities or in-patient hospitalizations are reported directly to OSHA
For more information about the Emergency Temporary Standard, please visit www.osha.gov/coronavirus/ets.