While the clinical team has had its hands full focusing on treating and trying to protect patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has maintained its focus on urgent care centers and other medical facilities as worksites. Now, having had more than a year to assess things, the agency has issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) designed to limit the risk of revitalizing the COVID-19 pandemic among healthcare workers. It requires facilities to conduct a hazard assessment and have a written plan to mitigate virus spread, and mandates that healthcare employers provide some employees with N95 respirators or other personal protective equipment. In addition, covered employers must ensure 6 feet of distance between workers, and erect barriers where that distance is not feasible. Importantly, given that vaccine rates have plateaued in many parts of the U.S., the ETS requires healthcare employers to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated and to recover from any related side effects. The standard defines a healthcare workplace as anyplace “employees provide healthcare or healthcare support services…with some exemptions for healthcare providers who screen out patients who may have COVID-19.”

OSHA’s New COVID-19 Standard Covers Healthcare Employers—Are You in Compliance?