On June 21, 2021, OSHA adopted a Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (Healthcare ETS) protecting healthcare workers from COVID-19 hazards. Any emergency temporary standards enacted by OSHA are effective until they are superseded by a permanent standard or withdrawn. OSHA has contemplated enacting a more permanent standard since the Healthcare ETS was announced, however, the Occupational Safety Hazard Act states that the permanent standard should be released within six months of any emergency temporary standard’s promulgation.
OSHA announced on December 27, 2021 that it is working expeditiously to issue a final standard that will protect healthcare workers, not just from COVID-19, but with a broader focus on infectious disease protections. However, based on the OSH Act and six month timeframe, OSHA has withdrawn all non-record keeping portions of the Healthcare ETS.
Although the Healthcare ETS standards is largely not within effect, OSHA still strongly encourages employers to follow the standard. Furthermore, OSHA has stated it will continue to vigorously enforce the general duty clause and its general standards, including Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection Standards, to protect healthcare workers.