OSHA Emergency Covid-19 Rule Standard Goes Into Effect July 6, 2021

OSHA Covid RulesOccupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) emergency temporary standard (ETS) protecting healthcare workers from Covid-19 goes into effect on July 6, 2021. A copy of the final draft is available here. The ETS focuses on healthcare workers most likely to have contact with someone infected with the virus. This includes employees in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities; emergency responders; home health care workers; and employees in ambulatory care settings where suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients are treated.

Among the requirements under the ETS, it will require non-exempt facilities to:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment;
  • Have a written plan to mitigate virus spread;
  • Require healthcare employers to provide some employees with N95 respirators or other personal protective equipment;
  • Ensure 6 feet of distance between workers or, where this is not possible, employers should erect barriers between employees where feasible;
  • Provide workers with paid time off to get vaccinated and to recover from any side effects; and
  • Covered employees who have coronavirus or who may be contagious must work remotely or otherwise be separated from other workers if possible, or be given paid time off up to $1400 per week.

OSHA’s emergency rule was issued in response to President Joe Biden’s January 1 executive order. President Biden’s order directed OSHA to consider the need for a standard and if warranted, prepare the standard by March 15. After missing that deadline, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh called for “a rapid update” of the unfinished standard. This update included information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis of virus dangers, as well as the latest information on vaccinations and the variants. It was finally issued on June 10.

Notably, Bloomberg Law reported that an earlier draft of the ETS showed it was intended to protect all workers. Yet when the standard finally was issued, it applied only to healthcare workers. The limited scope of the standard prompted two lawsuits by unions seeking a broader regulation.

Use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn if you have questions about this article or complying with Michigan or federal employment laws. Since 2001, Mr. Shinn has represented companies and individuals concerning the issues discussed above and other employment matters under federal and Michigan employment laws.