The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued an emergency temporary standard to protect healthcare workers from contracting coronavirus.
The standard focuses on healthcare workers most likely to have contact with someone infected with the virus. OSHA announced the new standard alongside new general industry guidance, both of which are aligned with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
"Too many of our frontline healthcare workers continue to be at high risk of contracting COVID-19," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. "As I said when I came to the department, we must follow the science. This standard follows the science, and will provide increased protections for those whose health is at heightened risk from coronavirus while they provide us with critical healthcare services. Given the pace of vaccinations, this standard, along with the guidance OSHA, the CDC and other agencies have released, will help us protect frontline healthcare workers and end this pandemic once and for all."
The emergency temporary standard establishes new requirements for settings where employees provide healthcare or health care support services, including skilled nursing homes and home healthcare, with some exemptions for healthcare providers who screen out patients who may have COVID-19. OSHA will update the standard, if necessary, to align with CDC guidelines and changes in the pandemic.
COVID-19 Guidance for Workplaces
The agency also issued updated guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in all workplaces.