On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) released the long-awaited COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), establishing new mandatory safety requirements generally applicable to the healthcare industry. The ETS applies to all settings where healthcare services or healthcare support services are provided, with certain enumerated exceptions. The ETS requires healthcare employers to take certain precautions to protect employees from the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace, such as developing and implementing a COVID-19 plan to meet certain parameters, screening patients and limiting access to settings where direct patient care is provided, providing PPE to employees and ensuring appropriate use, and enforcing indoor physical social distancing requirements.
The proposed regulations specify that the ETS does NOT apply to “home healthcare settings where all employees are fully vaccinated and all non-employees are screened prior to entry and people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not present.” Thus, patient homes might not be subject to the ETS, assuming the employees are vaccinated and pre-entry COVID screening is performed. Separately, the proposed regulation states that the ETS does not apply to “healthcare support services not performed in a healthcare setting (e.g., off-site laundry, off-site medical billing).” Therefore, it appears that the ETS is not applicable to home care and fiscal intermediary offices, where mainly clerical and administrative services (such as billing, payroll, human resources) are performed.
The ETS will be published in the Federal Register shortly and will take effect immediately upon publication, for covered providers.