OSHA is ‘working quickly’ to release final COVID-19 healthcare standard – Reuters

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is “working quickly” to release a final COVID-19 health care standard, the Labor Department said Thursday. The rule would apply to skilled nursing, assisted living and other health care settings.

Until the rule takes effect, the department reiterated, “employers must continue to comply with their obligations under the General Duty Clause, Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection Standards. , as well as other applicable OSHA standards to protect their employees from the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace,” the department said.

Thursday’s update, released ahead of National Caregivers Day, comes after OSHA pulled parts of its temporary COVID-19 healthcare emergency standard in December because the agency failed to met the deadline to promulgate a permanent rule.

OSHA had adopted the standard in June, requiring long-term care facilities and other healthcare workplaces to conduct risk assessments and have written plans in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker told Bloomberg Law that COVID-19 is “the occupational hazard of our time and we will continue to treat it like this for as long as necessary.” OSHA, he said, is using the temporary emergency standard as the basis for a permanent rule and will also review how states have implemented workplace safety requirements.

“Federal OSHA will always look to those state agencies that passed the rules first to see what we can borrow from them,” Parker said.

In conjunction with National Caregiver Day, today the Department of Labor is urging healthcare facilities and healthcare providers to implement their own effective safety and health programs amid ‘soaring injury rates “.

Citing statistics from Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, the department said healthcare workers experienced a 249% increase in injury and illness rates in 2020, based on data reported by employers due to the pandemic stressors. Health and social care workers combined have caused more injuries and illnesses than any other industry in the country, the data shows.

“We recognize our caregivers for the extraordinary sacrifices they continue to make working on the front lines throughout the pandemic to keep us healthy and safe – and we owe it to them to ensure that their employers do everything possible. they can to protect them,” Assistant Parker said. in a report. “The dangers facing healthcare workers continue to be of greatest concern, and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are still needed to protect them.”

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