On March 22, OSHA reopened its rule-making record for the proposed final rule on COVID-19 exposure protection for healthcare workers.
The agency, which now seeks comments and data, also scheduled an informal public hearing — to be held on April 27 — to develop a final standard.
OSHA’s COVID-19 Protection Standard
OSHA first published an interim final rule on June 21, 2021.
That rule established an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect both healthcare workers and healthcare support service workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19 in settings where people with the virus were reasonably expected to be present.
The ETS took effect immediately and served as a proposed final rule. OSHA requested comments from the public on the rule, and received such a high volume that the July 21 deadline was extended to August 2021.
Last week, OSHA re-opened the record, and set an April 22 deadline for submitting comments.
Following that, the agency plans to hold the informal hearing on April 27 to gather certain additional information from healthcare industry stakeholders.
According to OSHA’s press release on March 22:
“Individuals interested in testifying at the hearing must submit their notice of intention to appear no later than 14 days after the publication of the Federal Register Notice … The hearing will begin on April 27, 2022 and will take place online. If necessary, the hearing will continue on subsequent days.”
Anyone who wants to testify during the hearing must submit a Notice of Intention to Appear by April 6.
Information That OSHA Seeks
OSHA’s goal is to obtain specific information on COVID-19, such as new comments and data on the following items:
- Additional flexibility for employers
- Alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for health care infection control procedures
- Employer support for employees who want to be vaccinated
- COVID-19 recordkeeping and reporting provisions
- Tailoring controls to address interactions with people with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19
- Triggering requirements based on community transmission levels
- Removal of scope exemptions
- Limited coverage of construction activities in health care settings
- The potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – into a second novel strain
- The health effects and risk of COVID-19 since the ETS was issued
In response to previous public concerns, OSHA withdrew the non-recordkeeping portions of the ETS on December 27.
“As OSHA works toward a permanent regulatory solution, employers must continue to comply with their obligations under the General Duty Clause,” the press released added.
Employers also need to comply with “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.”
For more information about the issue, and to see the compliant assistance materials, click here.
About Worksite Medical
In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.
Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.
We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.
With Worksite Medical, a mobile medical testing unit — we can bring all the resources of a lab to you. Our certified lab technicians can perform both qualitative and quantitative respirator tests to ensure a perfect fit.
Protect your team and your workplace now with Worksite Medical. Not sure what you need? Try our medical testing wizard here.
Give us a call at 1-844-622-8633, or complete the form below to schedule an on-site visit or to get your free quote!