On January 21, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order which declared that ensuring the health and safety of workers is a national priority and a moral imperative. The order directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take action to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace.
The agency has determined that existing standards and regulations, and the OSH Act’s General Duty Clause, are inadequate to address the COVID-19 hazard for these workers. Additionally, it has become clear that a Federal standard is needed to ensure sufficient protection for healthcare workers in all states. OSHA has issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to address this hazard.
There are several sections in the COVID-19 ETS in Subpart U. Section 1910.502 – Healthcare: Except as otherwise provided in the standard, applies to all settings where any employee provides healthcare services or healthcare support services.
In short – If you meet the following 3 criteria, you do NOT need to implement the Emergency Temporary Standard in your office. If you do not meet the following 3 criteria, you must implement the Emergency Temporary Standard – which includes screening your patients.
- If you are a non-hospital ambulating care setting,
- All non-employees are screened prior to entry AND
- People with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not permitted to enter
If you do not meet all three guidelines above, you must implement the emergency temporary standards in your office, as outlined by Subpart U – which includes screening all people entering your office.
If you have to implement the Emergency Temporary Standards in your office, it includes:
- Developing a COVID-19 plan
- Patient screening and management
- Standard and transmission-based precautions
- Aerosol-generating procedures on a. Person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases
- Physical distancing
- Physical barriers
- Cleaning and disinfection
- Health screen and medical management
- And more.
To summarize – if you do not meet the above 3 criteria, you must implement the Emergency Temporary Standard, which includes a screening protocol. So if you implement a screening protocol and do not allow people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in your office, you are exempt from the remainder of the Emergency Temporary Standards.
To view the OSHA Fact Sheet on the Emergency Temporary Standards, click here.
To view “Is your workplace covered by the COVID-19 Healthcare ETS?”, click here
To view all information regarding the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards, click here