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Association Comments on COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

America’s Essential Hospitals submitted comments in response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) interim final rule implementing an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for occupational exposure to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 ETS aims to protect workers facing the highest COVID-19 hazards — those working in health care settings where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated. This includes employees in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and ambulatory care facilities; emergency responders; and home health care workers. The ETS is one standard with multiple components that direct workplaces to implement various protections for employees.

America’s Essential Hospitals voiced concerns with the timeline for implementation and the scope of the ETS and urged OSHA to:

  • delay compliance with the ETS, use nonpunitive means of initial enforcement, and take a flexible approach to surveying;
  • issue clarifying guidance and offer educational content and resources as soon as possible to improve hospitals’ ability to comply with the ETS;
  • resolve differences between Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and the ETS, to reduce complexity and burden for hospitals;
  • account for the impact of local factors and future changes in CDC guidance; and
  • revisit the ETS in coming months to evaluate its overall appropriateness and to ensure a permanent standard is not implemented without further input from stakeholders.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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