Latest Developments in OSHA's Guidance for Healthcare-Related Businesses

June 24, 2021

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) passed its COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for healthcare-based businesses. The ETS requires employers to implement a COVID-19 plan to protect their workers from the virus.

Who is Affected?
To assist healthcare businesses, OSHA published a flowchart to help determine how and if the ETS applies to their business. The flowchart can be found here.

It is imperative for healthcare-based businesses to understand how ETS defines “healthcare services.” Largely this applies to workers in hospitals, nursing homes, home healthcare workers, ambulatory care, hospice care, and emergency medical response, amongst other workers.

Who is Exempt?
Exemptions are equally as important to understand. Employers should also note that ETS provides exemptions for what constitutes “healthcare services.” Some of these are providing first aid by an unlicensed healthcare provider, dispensing of prescriptions by retail pharmacists, home healthcare settings where all employees are fully vaccinated, and all non-employees are screened prior to entry, off-site medical billing, and telehealth services performed outside of a setting where direct patient care occurs, amongst others.

If employers provide non-exempt “healthcare services,” they must remember to follow the requirements of the ETS COVID-19 plan, which is to develop and implement a plan for each workplace, designate a safety coordinator with knowledge in infection control, conduct a workplace hazard assessment, and monitor each workplace to ensure the plan is being implemented correctly. 

ETS also requires employers to supply facemasks to employees and must ensure they are worn indoors. Physical controls such as barriers and distancing are also required. Each employee must be separated by at least 6 feet while indoors. Barriers must be installed in areas where employees are not separated from each other by at least 6 feet.

OSHA requires employers to comply with most of its provisions within 14 days after it went into effect on June 21, 2021. Physical distancing compliance must be completed within 30 days.

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