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  • Writer's pictureAdele L. Abrams, Esq., CMSP

OSHA Reboots Rulemaking Process for COVID-19 Final Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has reopened the Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)/proposed rule for prevention of COVID-19 rulemaking record 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. Interested parties can submit comments online (Docket No.OSHA-2020-0004) by the new deadline of April 22, 2022.

The public hearing is scheduled online for April 27, 2022, and individuals interested in testifying at the hearing must submit a Notice of Intention to Appear no later than 14 days after the notice appears in the March 23, 2022, Federal Register.

In June 2021, OSHA issued an ETS to protect workers in healthcare settings from occupational exposure to COVID-19. The ETS 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, in part, 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, both within and outside of the healthcare industry where there is a recognized hazard from COVID-19.

For assistance in management of COVID-19 in the workplace, contact the Law Office at 301-595-3520 (Eastern Office) or 303-228-2170 (Western Office).

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