The OSHA Healthcare ETS was developed to protect healthcare and healthcare support service workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19 in settings where people with COVID-19 are reasonably expected to be present and has expired as of December 21, 2021, which means it is no longer and in effect. However, the recordkeeping requirements under the ETS, including the COVID-19 log and reporting provisions will remain in effect, as these provisions were adopted under a separate provision of the OSH Act, Section 8.
OSHA intends to continue to work expeditiously to issue a final standard that will protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 hazards and will do so as it also considers its broader infectious disease rulemaking.
As OSHA works towards a permanent regulatory solution, OSHA will vigorously enforce the general duty clause and its general standards, including the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Respiratory Protection Standards, to help protect healthcare employees from the hazard of COVID-19. The Respiratory Protection Standard applies to personnel providing care to persons who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. OSHA will accept compliance with the terms of the Healthcare ETS as satisfying employers’ related obligations under the general duty clause, respiratory protection, and PPE standards. Continued adherence to the terms of the healthcare ETS is the simplest way for employers in healthcare settings to protect their employees’ health and ensure compliance with their OSH Act obligations.
Next Steps for Employers
OSHA believes the terms of the Healthcare ETS remain relevant in general duty cases in that they show that COVID-19 poses a hazard in the healthcare industry and that there are feasible means of abating the hazard as such healthcare employers previously covered by the ETS should remain vigilant about maintaining health and safety standards in the workplace that are intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In addition, covered employers should ensure that they continue to comply with the recordkeeping portions of the ETS.
It may also be possible that large healthcare employers (100 or more employees) may become subject to the OSHA’s Vaccination and Testing ETS and/or the CMS Vaccine Mandate for facilities and suppliers who receive Medicare funds pending the outcome of litigation on both mandates. It would be recommended that employers take time to review the requirements of these mandates as well in order to ensure that they are prepared for compliance in the event the court rules in favor of the federal government.