July 1, 2021

OSHA Directive Aims to Ensure Uniform Enforcement of COVID-19 ETS

A new directive issued by OSHA this week provides guidance for OSHA compliance safety and health officers on enforcing the requirements of the agency’s new emergency temporary standard to protect healthcare workers from contracting SARS-CoV-2. The ETS, which became effective on June 21 upon publication in the Federal Register, focuses on workers in healthcare settings where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated. Employers must comply with all requirements of the ETS, except for provisions regarding physical barriers, ventilation, and training, by July 6, 2021. The compliance date for all requirements is July 21, 2021.

The new compliance directive (PDF) outlines procedures for how OSHA will enforce the ETS’ requirements for written COVID-19 plans, screening and management of patients and non-employees, personal protective equipment, aerosol-generating procedures, physical distancing, vaccination, recordkeeping, and reporting. Other requirements covered in the directive include those related to physical barriers, cleaning and disinfection, ventilation, training, anti-retaliation, and screening and medical management of employees. The directive will be effective for no more than 12 months from the effective date of the ETS unless it is canceled or extended by a superseding directive from OSHA.

The ETS is intended to protect workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities; emergency responders; home healthcare workers; and employees in ambulatory care settings. OSHA estimates that there are approximately 10.3 million workers in the healthcare establishments that will need to comply with the requirements of the standard.

The new directive can be downloaded in PDF format from OSHA’s website. Further details can be found in an agency press release. More information about OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS for healthcare settings is also available online.