OSHA has just announced it is partially reopening the record on the rulemaking for the permanent healthcare COVID-19 standard known as the rule on Occupational Exposure to COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings. Comments are due by April 22, 2022. The docket number is OSHA-2020-0004. Following the written comments, there will also be a hearing held online on April 27, 2022. Individuals interested in testifying must submit their notice of intention to appear no later than 14 days after publication in the Federal Register, which will occur on March 23, 2022.
OSHA is soliciting information and feedback on these issues:
1. Alignment with the CDC’s recommendations for healthcare infection control procedures.
2. Additional flexibility for employers.
3. Removal of scope exemptions.
4. Tailoring controls to address interactions with people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
5. Employer support for employees who wish to be vaccinated.
6. Limited coverage of construction activities in healthcare settings.
7. COVID-19 recordkeeping and reporting provisions.
8. Triggering requirements based on community transmission levels.
9. The potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2 into a second novel strain.
10. The health effects and risk of COVID-19 since the ETS was issued.
OSHA cautions employers that until there is a permanent standard, healthcare employers should still comply with the terms of the healthcare ETS and is currently in the midst of a 3-month blitz of follow-up inspections in the healthcare industry. Employers who are following the healthcare COVID-19 ETS will have a safe harbor from citations under the general duty clause, respirator and recordkeeping standards.