OSHA will hold hearing on permanent COVID-19 standard for healthcare workers

The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will hold a public hearing about its emergency temporary standard to protect healthcare workers from workplace exposure to the COVID-19 virus before it makes the standard permanent. 

OSHA issued the temporary standard in early June, and it went into effect across July. It requires workplace safety requirements—such as the provision of personal protective equipment—for workers in healthcare settings that treat suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. That temporary standard expired in December. Healthcare unions such as National Nurses United have pushed the agency to reinstall protections.

A coalition of 115 House members is pressing the Biden administration to issue permanent protections for healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19.

The emergency temporary standard required hospitals, nursing homes and home health care providers to provide vital personal protective equipment like N95 masks and included rules regarding ventilation, physical barriers and other safety-related issues.

The online hearing will be held April 27.

The agency also has reopened the rulemaking record and is allowing written comments through April 22. OSHA wants comments and feedback from industry stakeholders on the alignment of the standard with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's infection control recommendations, additional flexibility for employers, recordkeeping and reporting provisions related to the virus, and employer support for workers who want to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"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," the agency said in a press release.

The Supreme Court struck down OSHA's COVID-19 vaccination mandate for large employers earlier this year.

Comments can be submitted here. Individuals interested in speaking at the hearing must submit their notice of intention to appear.