New OSHA Requirements for COVID-19 Plans
June 21, 2021 by Keely Knopp
From the June Mercy Occupational Medicine eNewsletter
OSHA will now require healthcare employers with more than 10 employees to have written COVID-19 plans. This is an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) and requires compliance with most provisions within 14 days after OSHA publication.
The requirements are designed to protect workers facing the highest COVID-19 hazards: those working in healthcare settings where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated. This includes employees in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities; emergency responders; home healthcare workers; and employees in ambulatory care facilities where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated. While required only for those professions listed above, all employers should consider creating a COVID-19 plan.
Mitigating COVID-19 in the workplace requires employers to use multiple overlapping controls in a layered approach to better protect workers. The key requirements of the ETS are:
- COVID-19 plan: Develop and implement a COVID-19 plan (in writing if more than 10 employees).
- Patient screening and management: Limit and monitor points of entry to settings where direct patient care is provided.
- Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions: Develop and implement policies and procedures to adhere to Standard and Transmission-Based precautions based on CDC guidelines.
- Vaccination: Provide reasonable time and paid leave for vaccinations and vaccine side effects.
- Training: Ensure all employees receive training so they comprehend COVID-19 transmission, tasks and situations in the workplace that could result in infection, and relevant policies and procedures.
- Anti-Retaliation: Inform employees of their rights to the protections required by the standard and do not discharge or in any manner discriminate against employees for exercising their rights under the ETS or for engaging in actions required by the standard.
- Requirements must be implemented at no cost to employees.
- Recordkeeping: Establish a COVID-19 log (if more than 10 employees) of all employee instances of COVID-19 without regard to occupational exposure, and follow requirements for making records available to employees/representatives.
- Report work-related COVID-19 fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA.
More information on this new regulation from OSHA can be found at https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/OSHA4122.pdf. OR: Read OSHA’s COVID-19 Healthcare ETS Fact Sheet