June 11, 2021
OSHA has issued its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19, setting out the steps that health care employers must take to protect their workers from the risk of COVID-19.
The new protections include supplying personal protective equipment and ensuring proper usage; screening everyone who enters the facility for COVID-19; ensuring proper ventilation; and establishing physical distancing requirements (6 feet) for unvaccinated workers. It also requires employers to give workers time off for vaccination.
The ETS applies to settings where any employee provides health care services or health care support services, including hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities; emergency responders; home health care workers; and employees in ambulatory care facilities.
The ETS does not apply in the following settings or situations:
- first aid performed by an employee who is not a licensed health care provider;
- dispensing prescriptions by pharmacists in retail settings;
- non-hospital ambulatory care settings where all non-employees are screened before entry and people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not permitted to enter;
- well-defined hospital ambulatory care settings where all employees are fully vaccinated and all non-employees are screened before entry and people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not permitted to enter;
- home health care settings where all employees are fully vaccinated and all non-employees are screened before entry and people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not present;
- health care support services not performed in a health care setting (e.g., off-site laundry, off-site medical billing); or
- telehealth services performed outside a setting where direct patient care occurs.
The ETS exempts fully vaccinated workers from masking, distancing, and barrier requirements when in well-defined areas where there is no reasonable expectation that any person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 will be present.
For more information, see the “Is your workplace covered by the COVID-19 Healthcare ETS?” flow chart and TMA's article "OSHA issues temporary COVID-19 regs for health care settings."