Society Urges OSHA Not to Convert ETS as Permanent Standard

August 27, 2021
Policy Snapshot

The Society recently submitted comments on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Occupational Exposure to COVID-19; Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) public rule soliciting feedback on making the ETS a permanent standard. The ETS was set to be effective for only six months; however, OSHA is seeking comments to make it a permanent standard.

The Society recommended OSHA not convert the ETS to a permanent standard, noting that it “adds a layer of confusion and interferes with the abilities of professionals to make good, clinical decisions.” The Society also noted that CDC and CMS already have measures in place to account for staff safety.

On June 21, 2021, OSHA issued an ETS to protect health care and health care support service workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19 in settings where people with COVID-19 are reasonably expected to be present, such as post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. The ETS required, among other things, covered health care employers to:

  • Develop and implement a COVID-19 plan to identify and control COVID-19 hazards in the workplace
  • Implement other requirements to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in their workplaces
  • Require employers to provide reasonable time and paid leave for employee vaccinations and any side effects, and for medical removal of employees due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection

The Society further noted that “given the pace of vaccinations in PALTC, especially given recent announcement mandating vaccine for all visitors, residents and staff, and OSHA’s intent to promulgate a permanent airborne infectious disease rule, continuing the ETS beyond six months is not reasonable or appropriate.”

Click here to read the full comment letter.