OSHA to Lead Focused Inspection & Enforcement of Facilities Treating COVID-19 Patients

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced on March 7 that until June 9, 2022, it will devote 15 percent of its workplace inspections per region to nursing homes, hospitals, and assisted living communities that treat pepople with COVID-19.

Through this focused enforcement initiative, the agency will verify and assess employers’ compliance actions taken, including their readiness to address any ongoing or future COVID-19 surges.

This action was foreshadowed by comments made by President Joe Biden about reforming quality and safety in nursing homes during his State of the Union address.

OSHA’s goal is to expand its presence to ensure continued mitigation to control the spread of COVID-19 and future variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and protect the health and safety of health care workers at heightened risk for contracting the virus.

“We are using available tools while we finalize a health care standard,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “We want to be ahead of any future events in healthcare.”

The agency will be initiating focused inspections to emphasize monitoring for current and future readiness to protect workers from COVID-19. Follow-up inspections will be conducted at sites that were previously issued citations, as well as where complaints were received but the agency did not conduct in-person inspections.

This initiative supplements OSHA’s targeted enforcement under the Revised COVID-19 National Emphasis Program [DIR 2021-03 (CPL 03)] by conducting focused follow-up and monitoring inspections of previously inspected or investigated hospitals and skilled nursing care facilities within four North American Industry Classification System codes listed in the memorandum where COVID-19 citations or Hazard Alert Letters were issued, including remote-only inspections where COVID-19-related citations were issued.

This initiative and the revised COVID-19 National Emphasis Program would comprise 15 percent of OSHA’s enforcement activity.

On Dec. 27, 2021, OSHA announced its decision to withdraw the non-recordkeeping portions of the Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard. The agency will accept continued compliance with the Healthcare ETS as satisfying employers’ related obligations under the General Duty Clause, Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection standards.

OSHA has continually conducted outreach at the national, regional, and area office levels throughout the duration of the pandemic outbreak. Visit the agency’s Coronavirus Disease webpage for more information and resources on keeping workers safe from COVID-19.