OSHA Issues Emergency Temporary Standard and General Industry Guidance on COVID-19

On June 21, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published in the Federal Register an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19. The standard focuses on protecting workers in health care settings with 10 or more employees where suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients are treated. This includes employees in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, as well as emergency responders, home health care workers, and employees in ambulatory care settings where suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients are treated.  OSHA also announced new general industry guidance for the coronavirus that is aligned with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.  The new ETS requires non-exempt facilities to conduct a hazard assessment and have a written plan to mitigate virus spread, and requires healthcare employers to provide some employees with N95 respirators or other personal protective equipment.  OSHA has requested comment on the ETS, which by statute remains in effect for 180 days.