Despite the vaccination of nearly 60% of adults in the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continues to focus and provide guidance on COVID-19 safety in the workplace.
On June 10, 2021, OSHA published emergency temporary standards for the protection of healthcare employees from COVID-19.
The emergency temporary standard establishes new requirements for settings where employees provide healthcare or healthcare support services – including skilled nursing homes and home healthcare – with some exemptions for healthcare providers who screen out patients who may have COVID-19.
The standards require non-exempt facilities to conduct a hazard assessment and have a written plan to mitigate virus spread and requires healthcare employers to provide some employees with N95 respirators or other personal protective equipment.
In addition, covered employers must ensure 6 feet of distance between workers or erect barriers between employees where this is not possible. Covered employers must also provide workers with paid time off to get vaccinated and to recover from any side effects.
The standards exempt fully vaccinated workers from masking, distancing and barrier requirements when in well-defined areas where there is no reasonable expectation that any person will be present with suspected or confirmed coronavirus.
Employers must comply with most provisions within 14 days and with the remaining provisions within 30 days.