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Capitol Correspondence - 03.29.22

OSHA Seeks Public Comment for Occupational Exposure to COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings Rule

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On March 23, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational and Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it was reopening its comment period for the COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). OSHA officially withdrew the non-recordkeeping portions of the healthcare ETS on December 27, 2021, and announced at that time that it was planning to issue a permanent standard to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 hazards.

OSHA is considering several policy changes that differ from the ETS including:

  • Alignment with the CDC’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 health care 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

OSHA is clear that it is not considering mandatory vaccinations for covered employees at this time.

The department is seeking additional written comments as well as public testimony during a virtual public hearing that will take place on April 27. Written comments can be submitted online by April 22, 2022. ANCOR plans to provide testimony highlighting the workforce crisis in support of the written comments we submitted with the onset of the rule.