OSHA COVID-19 Healthcare Rulemaking

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

On June 21, 2021, OSHA published an interim final rule establishing 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 (86 FR 32376). The ETS took effect immediately but also served as a proposed rule on which OSHA requested comment. OSHA received comments concerning the ETS during the comment period, which was to end on July 21, 2021, but was extended to August 20, 2021, in response to requests from the public (86 FR 38232). In accordance with 29 USC 655(c)(3), the agency is now preparing to promulgate a final standard.

On March 22, 2022, OSHA announced a limited re-opening of the record and the agency’s intention to hold an informal public hearing to gather certain additional information from healthcare industry stakeholders – Federal Register Notice (Occupational Exposure to COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings – Document Number 2022-06080).

Public Comment

  • The public comment period opens Wednesday, March 23, 2022. The deadline for submitting comments is April 22, 2022. Comments and associated documents for this rulemaking (Docket Number OSHA-2020-0004) should be submitted electronically at https://www.regulations.gov/, which is the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.

Public Hearing/Notice of Intention to Appear (NOITA)

  • Interested persons who intend to provide oral testimony or documentary evidence at the hearing must file a written notice of intention to appear prior to the hearing using the Notice of Intention to Appear (NOITA) web form no later than 14 days after the publication of the Federal Register Notice.
  • The hearing will begin on April 27, 2022 and will be held virtually.
  • Before the hearing, OSHA will make the hearing procedures and hearing schedule available on this webpage and in the docket.

The above notice of rulemaking is found here.

The following is a list of potential rulemaking outcomes that would depart from the provisions of the ETS such that OSHA has decided to provide this additional notice and an opportunity to comment. OSHA has not made any decisions about these potential provisions or approaches, nor is this intended to list all of the potential changes from the ETS. Other changes may result after due consideration of all comments and hearing testimony.

  • Alignment with CDC Recommendations for Healthcare Infection Control Practices
  • Additional Flexibility for Employers
  • Removal of Scope Exemptions (e.g., ambulatory care facilities where COVID-19 patients are screened out; home healthcare)
  • Tailoring Controls to Address Interactions with People with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19
  • Vaccination: Booster Doses
  • Employer Support of Employee Vaccination
  • Requirements for Vaccinated Workers
  • Limited Coverage of Construction Activities in Healthcare Settings
  • Recordkeeping and Reporting: New Cap for COVID-19 Log Retention Period
  • Triggering Requirements Based on the Level of Community Transmission
  • Evolution of SARS-CoV-2 into a Second Novel Strain
  • Healthcare ETS – Covered Industries
  • Telework Employees
  • Costs; Ancillary Costs
  • Age Group 65-74
  • Data Sources
  • Small Business
  • Vaccine Efficacy
  • Frequency, Severity, and Distribution of Infections

Please share this OSHA HC rulemaking with your team and colleagues – it’s important.  Provide your comments as stakeholders and/or attend the virtual hearing. 

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