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Effective Date for OSHA COVID-19 Standard Is Drawing Near for Minnesota Providers

As members are aware, federal OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) on June 21 to protect health care and health care support service workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19.

Because Minnesota has its own federal-OSHA-approved occupational safety and health plan, an extra step is needed for these requirements to take effect here. Minnesota OSHA (MNOSHA) must publish a notice in the State Register that it has adopted the ETS as part of our State plan. We expect MNOSHA to post that notice on Monday, July 19, and the ETS will be effective in Minnesota at that time.

Channeling providers' frustration across the country about these OSHA requirements, LeadingAge National sent a letter asking federal OHSA to delay the COVID-19 ETS compliance and enforcement dates for six months. We can't count on a delay and must continue working to comply, but we wanted you to know LeadingAge is your voice on this issue.

Who is subject to the ETS?
The ETS applies, with a few exceptions, to settings where any employee provides healthcare services or healthcare support services, including employees in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, among others.

What does the ETS require?
OHSA has developed a summary of the ETS, which provides a good overview. The standards fall into several different categories:

  • Administrative requirements, including the development of a written COVID-19 plan that is based on a workplace hazard assessment and designation of workplace safety coordinator(s);
  • Core infection control practices, including patient screening and management, standard and transmission-based precautions, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and physical distancing;
  • Respiratory protection standards;
  • Physical environment standards, including cleaning and disinfection, use of physical barriers in some situations where distancing is not possible, and ventilation;
  • Health screening and medical management of staff cases and exposures, including screening, notification of exposures, and removing employees with suspected or confirmed cases, or who have had a high-risk exposure; and
  • Employment policies, including providing reasonable time and paid leave for vaccinations and vaccine side effects and continuing to pay employees in most circumstances when they are restricted from work due to COVID.

Resources: OSHA has posted several tools on its resources page to assist employers in compliance, including a sample plan, a sample workplace risk assessment and other tools.  And LeadingAge has posted a webinar update on the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard to its Learning Hub, which is available at no cost to members of LeadingAge national.

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