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OSHA Issues COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard for Health Care Workplaces

What Employers Need to Know

Anna L. Schroeder and Lindsey K. Self
6/24/21

two health care professionals looking at tablet   On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) applicable to workplaces where employees provide health care or health care support services. The purpose of the ETS is to protect workers most at risk of exposure to COVID-19 (a.k.a. coronavirus), such as employees in:

   That said, the ETS is not applicable to all health care workplaces, so employers should consult the flow chart provided by OSHA summarizing exemptions to the ETS to determine whether their workplace is covered. Notably, fully vaccinated employees are exempt from the masking, distancing and barrier requirements of the ETS (discussed below) when those employees are in well-defined areas where there is no reasonable expectation that any person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 will be present.

ETS Requirements

   The key requirements of the ETS include:

ETS Effective Dates

   The ETS became effective on June 21, 2021, with its publication in the Federal Register.   Covered employers are expected to comply with most new requirements by July 6, 2021.  Employers have until July 21, 2021, to comply with the other requirements (i.e., those related to physical barriers, ventilation and training).

   It is important to note the above list only summarizes OSHA’s new requirements, and employers should consult the full ETS text and legal counsel to ensure they are entirely compliant. Using its enforcement discretion, OSHA will avoid citing employers that make a good faith effort to comply with the ETS. OSHA also will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends and update the ETS as necessary.

   For questions about the ETS and how your workplace can comply with its requirements, contact one of our Labor & Employment or Health Care attorneys.

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Disclaimers:

   At the date of publication, the above information was correct.  It is quite possible the information above has changed as COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation.

   The article in this publication has been prepared by Eastman & Smith Ltd. for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney/client relationship.