The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Thursday rolled out a new emergency temporary standard protecting all healthcare workers against COVID-19, including those working in home health settings.
“Too many of our frontline healthcare workers continue to be at high risk of contracting the coronavirus,” Labor Department Secretary Marty Walsh said in a statement.
The standard requires nonexempt facilities to conduct hazard assessments and draw up a written plan to mitigate spread of the virus, provide some employees with N95 respirators or personal protective equipment, and ensure employees maintain a distance of 6 feet between other workers.
Additionally, employers are required to provide healthcare workers paid time off to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects. Employees who contract the coronavirus or who are contagious must work remotely, be separated from other workers, if possible, or be given paid time off up to $1400 a week. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees may be reimbursed through tax credits under the American Rescue Plan.
Healthcare workers who are fully vaccinated are exempt from masking, distancing and barrier requirements in well-defined areas and if there is no reasonable expectation that they will encounter another person infected with COVID-19.
The ETS is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Employers must comply with most provisions within 14 days and with the remaining provisions within 30 days. OSHA said it will use enforcement discretion to avoid citing employers who miss compliance deadlines but make a good faith effort to comply with the standard.