OSHA to Ramp Up Coronavirus Inspections

Remember OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) from June 2021? You need to. The agency announced earlier this month its intention to increase its coronavirus inspection goal from 5% to 10% in response to reports from the CDC of increasing COVID-related hospitalizations nationwide. Data from the CDC forecasts these rate increases will continue in the coming weeks.

The original ETS, issued June 21, 2021, was updated and adjusted on December 27, 2021, withdrawing all but the recordkeeping portion of the rule. OSHA’s intention remains, however, to continue to work to issue a final standard that will protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 hazards.

Further, the agency states “OSHA believes the danger faced by healthcare workers continues to be of the highest concern and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are still needed to protect them. Given these facts, and given OSHA’s anticipated finalization of this rule, OSHA strongly encourages all healthcare employers to continue to implement the ETS’s requirements in order to protect employees from a hazard that too often causes death or serious physical harm to employees.”

Regarding the increase in inspections, EHS Daily Advisor reported “OSHA has issued more than 1200 coronavirus-related citations since the beginning of the pandemic” and “industries targeted under the National Emphasis Program include ambulance and home healthcare services”, among others.

What does this mean for your business?

  • Currently, the recordkeeping portion of the ETS issued on June 21, 2021 is still in effect.
  • OSHA has made it clear that businesses that continue to adhere to the entire ETS will be in compliance under the general duty clause.
  • The ETS specifically exempted home care companies IF services were provided in home healthcare settings where all employees are fully vaccinated and all non-employees are screened prior to entry and people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not present.
  • OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment standards remain in effect.

The expectation is that OSHA will release an updated standard this fall. NAHC will continue to monitor this and will let our members know as more information becomes available.

In the meantime, please contact Kristen Wheeler at kwheeler@nahc.org or at 305-849-1300 with any questions or concerns.