Final OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Standard Now Complete

Posted on 6/14/2021 by Lauren Scott

Update 07/08/21: OSHA extended the public comment period for the new COVID-19 ETS for thirty days, until August 20, 2021. Stakeholders can comment on the Final Rule here.

Update 06/21/21: OSHA's COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) was published to the Federal Register today, June 21, 2021.

Employers in the healthcare industry must comply with most of the rule’s requirements by July 6, 2021.

Employers have until July 21 to comply with requirements in paragraph (i), (k), and (n) concerning physical barriers, ventilation, and employee COVID-19 training, respectively.  

View the COVID-19 ETS for healthcare employers in today's Federal Register

Original Post (published June 14, 2021) 

OSHA’s long-awaited Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect workers from exposure to COVID-19 is now completed and awaiting publication in the Federal Register. While OSHA initially sought to create standards to protect all workers, the current ETS applies to healthcare employers only.

The rule pulls from existing OSHA guidance on COVID-19 to address mask wearing, social distancing, respirator use, cleaning, ventilation, disinfecting the workplace, and more.The new OSHA requirements for healthcare employers will be located in a new Subpart U under OSHA's General Industry Standards in 29 CFR Part 1910.

Under the ETS, healthcare employers will be required to develop and implement a COVID-19 plan. That plan must include specific steps the employer will take to keep workers at least 6 feet apart indoors, ensure proper use and maintenance of ventilation systems, and provide face masks and COVID-19 related PPE when necessary.

Employers must train their workers on COVID-19: How it spreads, workplace-specific policies and procedures (i.e. health screenings, disease prevention protocols, disinfection practices, etc.), appropriate use and fit of PPE, use of sick leave, and how to safely complete any tasks that may increase risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Hospitals, medical offices, and other healthcare facilities can expect this rule to go into effect as soon as it is published in the Federal Register.

Lion’s COVID-19 Employee Safety Awareness Online Course helps ensure workers understand their responsibilities to keep themselves and their coworkers safe from COVID-19 and helps fulfill State training requirements.  

OSHA estimates that the COVID-19 ETS will prevent about 295,000 infectious and save 776 lives. 

OSHA COVID-19 Enforcement in Other Industries

While the new COVID-19 ETS focuses on healthcare employees, OSHA launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) earlier this year to protect high-risk workers in other industries from exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The program expands the scope of OSHA’s COVID-19 related inspections to prioritize companies with the highest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the virus.

Under the updated NEP, the following industries are prioritized for programmed inspections:
  • Meat/poultry processing plants
  • General warehousing and storage sites
  • Chemical manufacturing
  • Heavy and civil engineering construction
  • Metal manufacturing
  • Agriculture and food/beverage manufacturing
This NEP does not affect the timing of unprogrammed inspections, which are expected to continue as usual.

COVID-19 Safety Awareness Online Training

To help US workplaces safely resume and continue operations, Lion launched the COVID-19 Employee Safety Awareness Online Course. The course is designed to help satisfy training mandates for employees concerning COVID-19, preparing employees to: 
  • Recognize signs, symptoms, and risk factors for COVID-19.
  • Describe how the COVID-19 disease is transmitted.
  • Follow recommended hygiene and work protocols to prevent exposure.
  • Properly use and care for PPE and face coverings, when required. 
This self-paced online course is updated regularly to reflect evolving information on COVID-19 workplace exposure. As more employees nationwide return to work, it is crucial that they know how to protect themselves and their co-workers from exposure to COVID-19.

Tags: coronavirus, COVID-19, osha, safety, workplace safety

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