US Department of Labor schedules public hearing on final rule to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 exposure

March 23, 2022

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reopened the rulemaking record partially and scheduled an informal public hearing to seek comments on specific topics that relate to the development of a final standard to protect healthcare and healthcare support service workers from workplace exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

On June 21, 2021, OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard to protect workers in healthcare settings from occupational exposure to COVID-19. The Emergency Temporary Standard – 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-19.
  • Employer support for employees who wish to be vaccinated.
  • Limited coverage of construction activities in healthcare 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.

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-19 in the workplace. 

Department of Labor release

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