The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced on March 7 2022 that it is increasing inspections of hospitals, healthcare and nursing care facilities that treat COVID-19 infected individuals. We have monitored articles from a wide variety of reliable media sources to provide this short update.
A 3 Month Inspection Expansion Period
OSHA’s presence will expand in health care facilities from the period March 9 to June 9.
In this period, the agency will verify and assess healthcare provider and nursing care employers’ compliance actions,which will include their readiness to address any future spikes in COVID-19 infection numbers.
On Dec. 27, 2021, OSHA announced its decision to withdraw the non recordkeeping portions of its health care emergency temporary standard. The agency will accept continued compliance with this standard as satisfying the employers’ obligations under the general duty clause and personal protective equipment and respiratory protection standards.
Withdrawing the Emergency Temporary Standard
OSHA’s health care emergency temporary standard was effective only for a six-month period. This period ended on Dec. 21, 2021.
On Dec. 27, 2021, OSHA formally withdrew all requirements save the recordkeeping requirements of the emergency temporary standard.
Despite withdrawing the formal temporary standard, the agency urged health care providers to continue complying with the emergency temporary standard while OSHA continues to work toward issuing a final standard.
A Permanent COVID-19 OSHA Standard
A permanent COVID-19 health care standard will use the now-lapsed emergency standard as its base. OSHA chief Doug Parker believes the Supreme Court ruling that forecast its rejection of OSHA’s mandatory vaccine requirement for large businesses- a requirement later withdrawn by the agency – still allows OSHA to continue protecting workers from on-the-job hazards. According to Parker, this holds true even when there are similar exposure risks outside work.
Expect an OSHA COVID-19 Standard in 2022
OSHA noted in a statement that it will prioritize a permanent COVID-19 safety standard for health care workers. OSHA invited comments on the vaccine or test proposal through to January 19 2022 and received approximately 121,000 responses.
This number of comments is “by far the greatest number of comments on a proposed rule OSHA has ever received,” according to Eric Hobbs, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Milwaukee.
Will OSHA open the record to receive further comment in respect of any further changes it intends to make? “That would be wise, but it also would delay publication of a proposed standard,” Hobbs stated.
In either case, he noted, employers are likely to see a permanent COVID-19 standard proposed in 2022, even if the details are not yet set in stone.
On January 13 2022, the United States Supreme Court allowed the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to require COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers.
In light of the increased scrutiny being placed on hospitals, healthcare providers and nursing care facilities it is more important than ever to ensure that all staff have current OSHA compliant Bloodborne Pathogens Certification. You can get your staff certified in a fast and easy way right here with automated bloodborne pathogen training for healthcare workers.