OSHA Issues ETS for Certain Healthcare Providers


Certain Healthcare and Healthcare Support Employers


June 21, 2021


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The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recently issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for employers whose employees provide healthcare services or healthcare support services (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, emergency responders, home healthcare workers, and employees in ambulatory care facilities where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated. Because the ETS is directed at unvaccinated workers most likely to be involved in caring for patients who have COVID-19, it specifically exempts certain healthcare workers:

  • Employees providing first aid who are not licensed healthcare providers.
  • Pharmacists dispensing prescriptions in retail settings.
  • Non-hospital ambulatory care settings where all non-employees are screened prior to entry and people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not permitted to enter.
  • Well-defined hospital ambulatory care settings where all employees are fully vaccinated, all non-employees are screened prior to entry, and people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not permitted to enter.
  • 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.
  • Healthcare support services not performed in a healthcare setting (e.g., off-site laundry, off-site medical billing).
  • Telehealth services performed outside of a setting where direct patient care occurs.

Employers in well-defined hospital ambulatory care settings and home healthcare settings where all employees are vaccinated, except those who cannot be vaccinated due to a protected status and receive a reasonable accommodation that does not expose them to COVID-19 hazards (e.g., telework, working in isolation), may still qualify for the exemption from the ETS standard.

Applicable employers have new requirements:

  • Implement a COVID-19 prevention plan; the plan must be in writing for employers with 10 or more employees.
  • Implement safety measures, such as monitoring patients and others upon entry, required masks and respirators, social distancing, personal protective equipment training, work station barriers in close quarters, cleaning and disinfection, and HVAC system requirements.
  • Screening, contact notice, and exclusion rules require that employees be screened prior to entry, workers exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace must receive notice, and paid exclusion from the workplace if exposed or positive for COVID-19.
  • Provide reasonable time and paid leave for vaccinations and vaccine side effects.
  • Provide employee training on COVID-19 prevention with specified requirements.
  • Prohibit retaliation for employees exercising their rights or engaging in activity required by the ETS.
  • Record COVID-19 cases without regard to occupational exposure and follow requirements for making records available to employees/representatives.
  • Report work-related COVID-19 fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA.

Action Items

  1. Review OSHA’s ETS website here.
  2. Prepare and implement a COVID-19 prevention plan.
  3. Have employees trained on ETS requirements.
  4. Update paid leave requirements.
  5. Update OSHA recording and reporting procedures.
  6. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

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