The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking comments on specific topics related to development of a final standard to protect healthcare workers from workplace exposure to the Covid-19 virus.
With this goal in mind, OSHA has reopened the rulemaking record partially and scheduled an informal public hearing. Comments must be submitted online, identified by Docket No. OSHA-2020-0004, by the April 22, 2022 deadline.
Individuals interested in testifying at the hearing must submit their notice of intention to appear no later than 14 days after the publication of the Federal Register Notice. The hearing will begin on April 27, 2022 and will take place online. If necessary, the hearing will continue on subsequent days.
On June 21, 2021, OSHA issued an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect workers in healthcare settings from occupational exposure to Covid. The ETS – which also served as a proposed rule – focused on healthcare workers most likely to have contact with people infected with the virus.
The agency is reopening the rulemaking record to allow for new data and comments on topics, including the following:
- 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.
- Employer support for employees who wish to be vaccinated.
- Limited coverage of construction activities in healthcare settings.
- Covid 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 since the ETS was issued.
As OSHA works towards a permanent regulatory solution, employers must continue to comply with their obligations under the General Duty Clause, Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection Standards, as well as other applicable OSHA standards to protect their employees against the hazard of Covid in the workplace. More information, including compliance assistance materials, are available.