The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a proposed rule to restore and expand Obama-era requirements for high-hazard employers with at least 100 employees to submit their injury and illness forms electronically to the agency.

To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

OSHA has just announced it is partially reopening the record on the rulemaking for the permanent healthcare COVID-19 standard known as the rule on Occupational Exposure to COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings. Comments are due by April 22, 2022. The docket number is OSHA-2020-0004. Following the written comments, there will also be a hearing held online on April 27, 2022. Individuals interested in testifying must submit their notice of intention to appear no later than 14 days after publication in the Federal Register, which will occur on March 23, 2022.

OSHA is soliciting information and feedback on these issues:

1. Alignment with the CDC’s recommendations for healthcare infection control procedures.
2. Additional flexibility for employers.
3. Removal of scope exemptions.
4. Tailoring controls to address interactions with people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
5. Employer support for employees who wish to be vaccinated.
6. Limited coverage of construction activities in healthcare settings.
7. COVID-19 recordkeeping and reporting provisions.
8. Triggering requirements based on community transmission levels.
9. The potential evolution of SARS-CoV-2 into a second novel strain.
10. The health effects and risk of COVID-19 since the ETS was issued.

OSHA cautions employers that until there is a permanent standard, healthcare employers should still comply with the terms of the healthcare ETS and is currently in the midst of a 3-month blitz of follow-up inspections in the healthcare industry. Employers who are following the healthcare COVID-19 ETS will have a safe harbor from citations under the general duty clause, respirator and recordkeeping standards.

If you have questions or need assistance with drafting and submitting comments for the healthcare COVID-19 rulemaking or need assistance with any other OSHA matters, please reach out to the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work or any member of our Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group.

With its new inspection initiative, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is taking steps to ensure certain healthcare employers continue to protect workers against COVID-19, even as falling case numbers across the country have prompted many state and local agencies to withdraw mask mandates and other COVID-19 precautions.

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The Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF) has announced an initiative to inspect publicly funded construction sites to ensure employers provide worker’s compensation and follow labor laws, including workplace health and safety requirements.

With this new focus, construction employers who work on public works projects should review their workplace compliance to avoid citations.

Read the full article on Jackson Lewis’ California Workplace Law Blog.

On April 4, 2022, a merits panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on a petition seeking to force OSHA to issue a permanent standard for healthcare occupational exposure to COVID-19 and to reinstate the Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard on Occupational Exposure (Healthcare ETS) to COVID-19 pending the permanent standard. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ referral of this matter to a merits panel was initiated by the Court’s own motion.

On December 27, 2021, OSHA announced the withdrawal of the Healthcare ETS and confirmed its intent to issue a permanent infectious disease standard. Less than two weeks later, on January 5, 2022, National Nurses United and several other labor unions filed an Emergency Petition for a Writ of Mandamus and Request for Expedited Briefing and Disposition with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. In re: National Nurses United, et al., No. 22-1002 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 5, 2022).

The unions argue that OSHA has failed to adequately protect nurses and other healthcare workers from COVID-19. OSHA filed its opposition to the petition on January 21, 2022, arguing, among other things, that OSHA was unable to finalize a permanent healthcare standard because it focused the agency’s resources on its COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (which was also withdrawn). OSHA indicated it expects to complete rulemaking for a permanent healthcare standard within six-to-nine months.

The Healthcare ETS applied in settings where COVID-19 patients are treated, and it required healthcare employers with more than 10 employees to develop and implement written COVID-19 plans that included the following elements:

  • Assigning a designated safety coordinator;
  • Patient screening and management;
  • Policies and procedures to comply with CDC guidelines;
  • Facemask and PPE requirements;
  • Protections while using aerosol-generating procedures on persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19;
  • Physical distancing;
  • Solid barriers at employee work stations;
  • Cleaning and disinfection protocols;
  • HVAC system requirements;
  • Health screening and medical management requirements;
  • Paid leave for vaccinations, vaccination recovery, and medical removal from work due to COVID-19 infection or certain COVID-19 exposures;
  • Employee training;
  • Anti-retaliation protections;
  • Employee COVID-19 logs; and
  • Reporting work-related COVID-19 fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations.

OSHA has indicated its forthcoming permanent infectious disease standard will cover all industries and address airborne, droplet, and non-bloodborne contact diseases.

While OSHA has indicated it may use the now-withdrawn Healthcare ETS to support citations against healthcare employers under the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act, only the COVID-19 log and reporting provisions formally remain in effect.

Reinstatement of the Healthcare ETS would have a significant impact on covered employers, particularly as COVID-19 cases appear to be dropping throughout the country and more jurisdictions are loosening restrictions.

Please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney with any questions.

California employers are required to post their annual summary of work-related injuries and illnesses, including COVID-19 illness, in a visible and easily accessible area at every worksite from February 1st through April 30th. Employers are required to use Cal/OSHA’s Form 300A for this posting. Read the full article on the California Workplace Law Blog by clicking here.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has withdrawn its enforcement of the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring most employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccines or tests for employees.

To read this article in its entirety, please click here.