OSHA may issue COVID-19 healthcare standard on its own schedule: courts

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The federal government can issue a permanent COVID-19 healthcare standard on its own timeline after an appeals court ruled against a group of unions hoping to speed up the process.

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Friday that it lacks jurisdiction to set enforcement policies for the Health and Safety Administration. workplace safety or dictate a timeline for enacting them.

“OSHA has no clear obligation to issue a permanent standard, so we cannot compel the agency to do so,” the court wrote in its ruling. “OSHA’s decision whether, when, and how vigorously to apply a particular standard is at the agency’s discretion and not subject to judicial review.”

In a July 25 filing with the appeals court, OSHA said it was on track to complete a final health care standard in September or October. But the agency said changes in the science or the course of the pandemic may necessitate a reassessment of policy decisions that could “significantly alter this timeline”.

Several labor groups — National Nurses United, New York State Nurses Association, Pennsylvania Association of Nurses and Allied Professionals, AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers and American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees — sued the agency. January 5 after allowing the temporary COVID-19 health emergency standard to expire in December 2021. The suit also asked the court to apply the health care ETS in the meantime.

OSHA originally announced a COVID-19 healthcare HTA in June 2021. It required assisted living communities and other healthcare facilities to conduct risk assessments and have written plans to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus; called on healthcare employers to provide some employees with N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment; and included social distancing, employee screening, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

However, the agency withdrew the non-record-keeping parts of the standard in December, after failing to complete work on a final rule within the time frame set by the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1970. .

The agency has sought comment on a proposed final rule released in March that it says will protect assisted living workers and other healthcare workers from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Senior life industry executives have filed their opposition to the general requirements of the proposed final rule, calling it “too prescriptive” and confusing. Argentum argued that assisted living communities should be exempt from the requirements of the COVID-19 healthcare standard, questioning the standard’s applicability to the lives of older adults. The American Seniors Housing Association, LeadingAge and the National Center for Assisted Living also submitted comments against the proposed rule.

Seniors’ associations also testified about the proposed rule in April.

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