OSHA Issues New COVID-19 Safety Rules
The following article is about new OSHA workplace safety rules for healthcare providers related to COVID-19.
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Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq.
|On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new COVID-19 workplace safety rules for health care providers. It is important to know that the regulations generally apply to all settings where providers render healthcare services or healthcare support services. The definition of healthcare services in the regulations specifically includes both home health and hospice care. There are, however, exceptions that may apply to home care providers. The new rules do not apply to:
- Home healthcare settings where all employees are fully vaccinated and all non-employees are screened prior to entry, and people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not present
- Healthcare support services not performed in a healthcare setting, such as billing
- Telehealth services performed outside of settings where direct patient care occurs
Here are some of the key provisions of the regulations:
- Providers must develop and implement a COVID-19 plan. If providers have more than ten employees, plans must be in writing.
- Providers must designate one or more safety coordinators to implement and monitor plans.
- Assessments must be conducted to identify potential workplace hazards related to COVID-19.
- Plans must address hazards identified by assessments.
- Policies and procedures must be included in plans that minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
- Providers must protect employees who enter into private residences or other physical locations controlled by persons not covered by OSHA requirements, such as homeowners, including procedures for employees to withdraw from locations if protections are inadequate.
- Employers must provide and ensure that employees wear face masks described in the regulations.
- Providers must ensure that employees wear face masks over their noses and mouths when indoors and when they occupy vehicles with other people for work purposes. Employers must provide a sufficient number of face masks to each employee and must ensure that employees change them at least once per day, whenever they are soiled or damaged, and more frequently, if necessary.
- Providers must screen employees before each work day, which may include self-monitoring before reporting to work.
- Providers must require employees to promptly notify them of COVID-19 illnesses or symptoms.
- Employers are required to notify employees of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
- Employers with more than ten employees on the effective date of the regulations must compensate employees required to work remotely or in isolation and continue to provide benefits. Compensation may be reduced by amounts received from other sources, including paid leave.
- Providers must also provide reasonable time and paid leave, such as sick leave, to employees for vaccination and any side effects as a result of vaccination.
Compliance with many of the rules described above will be required within fourteen days of publication of the rule in the Federal Register. Providers must comply with the remaining requirements within thirty days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
There's always something new in healthcare! Here we are again!
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