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OSHA weighs in on COVID workplace safety

OSHA weighs in on COVID workplace safety

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) seeks comments on an interim final rule, the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), that has been posted to the Federal Register website.  

The ETS stems from an executive order signed by President Biden in January 2021 to protect worker health and safety. It directed OSHA to take action to reduce the risk for workers of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. 

The ETS contains several requirements that apply to most settings where any employee provides health care services or health care support services, including DME suppliers and home health agencies. Employers will have 14 to 30 days to comply, depending on the standard. 

Key requirements of the ETS include: 

  • The employer must develop and implement a COVID-19 plan for each workplace. If the employer has more than 10 employees, the COVID-19 plan must be in writing. 
  • The employer must designate one or more workplace COVID-19 safety coordinators to implement and monitor the COVID-19 plan. 
  • The employer must conduct a workplace-specific hazard assessment to identify potential workplace hazards related to COVID-19. 
  • For an employer to be exempt from providing controls based on employees’ fully vaccinated status, the COVID-19 plan must include policies and procedures to determine employees’ vaccination status. 
  • The employer must seek the input and involvement of non-managerial employees and their representatives, if any, in the hazard assessment and the development and implementation of the COVID-19 plan. 
  • The employer must monitor each workplace to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the COVID-19 plan and update it as needed. 

An employer’s COVID-19 plan must also address the hazards identified by the assessment and include policies and procedures to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 for each employee and effectively communicate and coordinate with other employers when workspace is shared by multiple employers. 

Additionally, the COVID-19 plan must contain provisions that protect employees who enter into private residences or other physical locations controlled by a person not covered by the OSH Act (e.g., homeowners, sole proprietors). This must include procedures for employees to withdraw from that location if those protections are inadequate. 



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