WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has reopened the rulemaking record partially and scheduled an informal public hearing to seek comments on specific topics that relate to the development of a final standard to protect healthcare and healthcare support service workers from workplace exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Submit comments online, identified by Docket No. OSHA-2020-0004. Submit written comments by the deadline of April 22, 2022.
Individuals interested in testifying at the hearing must submit their notice of intention to appear no later than 14 days after the publication of the Federal Register Notice. The hearing will begin on April 27, 2022 and will take place online. If necessary, the hearing will continue on subsequent days. Learn more in the Federal Register notice.
On June 21, 2021, OSHA issued an Emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect workers in healthcare settings from occupational exposure to COVID-19. The ETS – which also served as a proposed rule – focused on healthcare workers most likely to have contact with people infected with the virus. The ETS required employers with 100 or more employees to either vaccinate them against COVID-19 or regularly test them. Employers were also required to track the vaccination status of their workers. The rule would have impacted more than 80 million U.S. workers.
On Jan. 13, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to block the rule, saying the Biden administration overstepped its authority and that aspects of the ETS weren't legal. The administration subsequently withdrew the vaccine-or-test mandate.
The agency is reopening the rulemaking record to allow for new data and comments on topics, including the following:
- Alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for healthcare infection control procedures.
- Additional flexibility for employers.
- Removal of scope exemptions.
- Tailoring controls to address interactions with people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- Employer support for employees who wish to be vaccinated.
- Limited coverage of construction activities in healthcare settings.
- COVID-19 recordkeeping and reporting provisions.
- Triggering requirements based on community transmission levels.
- The potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2 into a second novel strain.
- The health effects and risk of COVID-19 since the ETS was issued.
As OSHA works towards a permanent regulatory solution, employers must continue to comply with their obligations under the General Duty Clause, Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection Standards, as well as other applicable OSHA standards to protect their employees against the hazard of COVID-19 in the workplace.