LeadingAge Minnesota Comments on OSHA COVID Standard
Posted on May 26, 2022 by LeadingAge
LeadingAge Minnesota submitted comments this week urging OSHA not to make its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 a permanent part of the regulatory landscape.
This relates to the Healthcare ETS issued in June 2021 that imposed various infection control and related requirements on healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living settings. When that temporary standard expired late last year, OSHA said it planned to work on converting the ETS to a permanent regulatory standard during 2022.
Notably, OSHA is not considering mandatory vaccination for employees at this time.
In the most recent stage of this proposed rulemaking, OSHA published notice that it is considering changes to the previously-issued ETS, such as closer alignment with CDC recommendations and restating requirements in more general, less prescriptive terms. The agency is also calling for public comments on these issues.
Our comments aligned with those of our national partners, Argentum and LeadingAge. We have asserted that a permanent OSHA standard is unnecessary and burdensome given CDC, CMS, and state-licensing guidance and requirements already in place, not to mention the standards OSHA may enforce outside of the ETS.
We also offered feedback on specific areas where OSHA is exploring a change to the Healthcare ETS if it becomes permanent. For example, OSHA is considering restating various provisions as broader requirements without the level of detail included in the Healthcare ETS and providing a "safe harbor" enforcement policy for employers in compliance with applicable CDC guidance. We voiced support for the flexibility a broader approach would give rather than a highly detailed, prescriptive standard.
OSHA will take all public comments under advisement as it continues its work and evaluation regarding a permanent workplace safety standard relating to COVID-19.