GNYHA Comments on OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standards

August 20, 2021

GNYHA filed comments in response to the US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) addressing COVID-19 safety standards in health care settings. The ETS was issued as an interim final rule, and OSHA has requested comments on whether it should introduce a final rule once the ETS expires at the end of six months.

GNYHA recommends that the ETS not be renewed or finalized. But in case OSHA issues an updated final rule, GNYHA provided the following key comments:

  • If OSHA finalizes the ETS, then its requirements should only be applicable to health care facilities in regions with a high prevalence of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations (e.g., hospital in regions with >5% case positivity).
  • OSHA should not develop and require its own set of infection control standards, and should instead incorporate by reference those currently in place from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • OSHA should remove the mini respirator protection program from the requirements.
  • OSHA should remove non-invasive ventilation from the definition of aerosol-generating procedures.
  • The ETS should remove any prescriptive requirements for health screenings at points of entry; alternative strategies should be acceptable.
  • The ETS should consider factors such as duration of exposure and the vaccine status of individuals when determining exposures, and not apply unproven exposure standards as employer requirements.
  • The ETS should remove physical barrier requirements for employers.
  • OSHA should streamline employer-required logging and reporting and remove any duplicative reporting of COVID-19 cases in health care workers.
The ETS follows President Biden’s Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety and calls on OSHA to determine whether an ETS that includes infection control standards is necessary—and if so, to put one forward. It was published on June 21 and became effective immediately. Employers needed to have complied with most of the requirements in the ETS by July 6 and all remaining requirements by July 21.
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