The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a final rule requiring healthcare employers to protect workers against on-the-job COVID-19 infection. The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) applies only to the healthcare sector.
According to OSHA, the goal of the ETS is to protect workers facing the highest COVID-19 hazards—those working in healthcare settings where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated. This includes employees in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities; emergency responders; home healthcare workers; and employees in ambulatory care facilities where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated. The ETS exempts fully vaccinated workers from masking, distancing, and meeting barrier requirements when in well-defined areas where there is no reasonable expectation that any person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 will be present.
Key requirements of the ETS include:
- COVID-19 plan, must be in writing and include several elements and policies and procedures
- Patient screening and management
- Standard and transmission-based precautions
- Personal protective equipment
- Aerosol-generating procedures on a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19
- Physical distancing
- Physical barriers
- Cleaning and disinfection
- Health screening and medical management
- Record keeping
- Reporting work-related COVID-19 fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA.
The ETS is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Employers must comply with most provisions within 14 days, and with provisions involving physical barriers, ventilation, and training within 30 days.
For more information, go to OSHA’s COVID-19 Healthcare ETS webpage, which includes several documents about the rule and implementation. For the full text of the ETS, refer to 29 CFR 1910;502 at www.osha.gov/coronavirus/etc.
In addition to the healthcare-focused ETS, OSHA is issuing updated guidance to help employers and workers in other industries protect workers who are still not vaccinated, with a special emphasis on other industries noted for prolonged close-contacts like meat processing, manufacturing, seafood, grocery and high-volume retail.
- Summary of the ETS – https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/OSHA4120.pdf
- OSHA ETS Standards – https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/covid-19-healthcare-ets-reg-OSHA
- Additional guidance for healthcare workers – https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework
- OSHA Fact Sheet – https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/OSHA4122.pdf
In addition, to the above resources, Inspirien is offering an Outbreak Preparedness Survey to its covered hospitals and other healthcare facilities. This survey will assess the effectiveness of your Emergency Preparedness process during the pandemic. We believe both TJC and CMS/ADPH survey will focus on these processes during upcoming visits. Participation in this survey showcases leadership’s commitment to engaging the team post crises to reflect on the successes and where improvements may be needed related to the pandemic. It further supports the effort of your team and their focus on delivering the highest quality of care, even in the midst of an international health emergency.
If you are interested, please contact your Risk Consultant directly or email firstname.lastname@example.org.