The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is issuing an emergency temporary standard (ETS) 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. During the period of the emergency standard, covered healthcare employers must develop and implement a COVID-19 plan to identify and control COVID-19 hazards in the workplace. Covered employers must also implement other requirements to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in their workplaces, related to the following: patient screening and management; Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions; personal protective equipment (PPE), including facemasks or respirators; controls for aerosol-generating procedures; physical distancing of at least six feet, when feasible; physical barriers; cleaning and disinfection; ventilation; health screening and medical management; training; anti-retaliation; recordkeeping; and reporting. The standard encourages vaccination by requiring employers to provide reasonable time and paid leave for employee vaccinations and any side effects.
It also encourages use of respirators, where respirators are used in lieu of required facemasks, by including a mini respiratory protection program that applies to such use. Finally, the standard exempts from coverage certain workplaces where all employees are fully vaccinated and individuals with possible COVID-19 are prohibited from entry; and it exempts from some of the requirements of the standard fully vaccinated employees in well-defined areas where there is no reasonable expectation that individuals with COVID-19 will be present.