While many COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed or eliminated, healthcare organizations will continue to be subject to stringent regulations for the foreseeable future.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recently enacted a long-awaited Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) requiring healthcare employers to follow heightened safety protocols to protect against the spread of new COVID-19 infection. However, the ETS does not apply to (1) emergency first aid performed by an employee who is not a licensed health care provider; (2) retail pharmacies; (3) non-hospital ambulatory care settings where all non-employees are screened prior to entry; (4) certain hospital ambulatory care settings where all employees are fully vaccinated and all non-employees are screened prior to entry; (5) home healthcare settings where all employees are fully vaccinated and all non-employees are screened prior to entry; (6) healthcare support services not performed in a healthcare setting; or (7) telehealth services.
The ETS sets forth strict requirements for healthcare employers, including these notable provisions:
Employers are required to comply with most of the new ETS rules by no later than July 6. According to the OSHA summary, “OSHA will use its enforcement discretion to avoid citing employers who are making a good faith effort to comply with the ETS.” As such, health care employers should make all reasonable and appropriate efforts to comply with the new ETS rules as soon as possible.
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