As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, a new emergency temporary standard has been released by The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The standard provides new guidelines to protect healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19. Those who are likely to come in contact with the virus are the focal point of the new standard.
The Emergency Temporary Standard
Many healthcare workers face a high risk of contacting COVID-19. Therefore, OSHA’s new standard aims to protect healthcare workers that are most vulnerable. U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh stated, the emergency temporary standard “will provide increased protections for those whose health is at heightened risk from coronavirus while they provide us with critical healthcare services”.
These new guidelines will help reduce the spread of the coronavirus among healthcare workers. Workers that treat COVID-19 patients, or those suspected to have the virus, gain increased protection. It also aligns with the CDC’s guidance and will update if necessary.
OSHA has released many new requirements. Employees that provide healthcare services or healthcare support services are subject to these standards. A hazard assessment is necessary, as well as a plan in case the virus does spread. In addition, employees must provide N95 respirators and other protective gear to their employees. They must enforce social distancing among workers; when distancing is not possible, barriers should be used.
Workers will be expected to receive paid time off to get vaccinated and recover from possible side effects. Paid time off will also be provided for those diagnosed with COVID-19. However, fully vaccinated workers are exempt from mask wearing and social distancing in spaces free from the virus.
Enforcing the Emergency Temporary Standard
The standard will be effective immediately, so employees need to comply as soon as possible. This ensures increased protection for healthcare workers occurs quickly. OSHA is watching the pandemic closely; as a result, they will update their policies as needed. Overall, the standard sets out to provide safety for healthcare workers as the pandemic worsens.
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OSHA (2021, June 10).US Department of Labor’s OSHA issues emergency temporary standard to protect health care workers from the coronavirus. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/national/06102021