December 9, 2021

Volume XI, Number 343

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What Does OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard Mean for Institutions of Higher Education?

On June 10, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its highly anticipated COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) but limited it to healthcare workers. Many may think that this ETS is only applicable to those workers in the standard “healthcare” industry, i.e., hospitals, long-term care facilities, etc. However, a reading of the ETS and OSHA’s interpretation shows that it also applies to any setting where employees provide healthcare or healthcare support services. What does this mean for institutions of higher education (IHEs)? If your institution has any type of student health service available to its students provided by employees of the IHE and/or any center that provides healthcare services to staff and faculty, then you are likely covered by the ETS. This may also include athletic trainers, EMTs and other licensed professionals, so these scenarios should be carefully reviewed by one who is well-versed in the language of the ETS and its applicability. Further, if the medical services are provided by a third party, it is essential that the institution ensures that its contractors’ Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Plan complies with the ETS.

The ETS is one standard with multiple sections, including Healthcare (1910.502), Mini Respiratory Protection Program (1910.504), Severability (1910.505), and Incorporation by Reference (1910.509). The main section, Healthcare, has the following 16 key requirements: (a),(b)&(c) Definitions and the required written COVID-19 plan; (d) Patient Screening and Management; (e) Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions; (f) Personal Protective Equipment; (g) Aerosol-generating procedures on a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19; (h) Physical distancing; (i) Physical barriers; (j) Cleaning and disinfection; (k) Ventilation; (l) Health screening and medical management; (m) Vaccination; (n) Training; (o) Anti-Retaliation; (p) Requirements must be implemented at no cost to employees; (q) Special Recordkeeping; and (r) Reporting to OSHA.

The ETS became effective on June 21 when it was published in the Federal Register. All provisions of the ETS, except for those involving physical barriers (i), ventilation (k), and training (n) must be implemented by July 6 (since July 5 is a Holiday). Provisions involving physical barriers, ventilation, and training must be implemented by July 21. It is important that all IHEs determine what areas of the institution may be covered by the ETS, then carefully review their existing written Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Plans to ensure compliance.

© Steptoe & Johnson PLLC. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 175
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About this Author

William J. Wahoff, Steptoe Johnson, Title VII Discirimination Attorney, Employment Litigation Lawyer,
Member

Bill Wahoff’s primary focus is health and safety law, including OSHA on a national basis, workers’ compensation, Ohio VSSR, and intentional tort litigation defense. He has vigorously represented employers at several thousand administrative hearings, in numerous court cases, including jury trials, and mandamus actions.  He also has significant experience representing employers in federal and state court employment litigation and in labor negotiations. He has handled ADA, FMLA, and race, gender-based, Title VII discrimination cases and has bargained with the UAW,...

(614) 456-1654
Nelva Smith, Workers Compensation Attorney, Steptoe Johnson Law Firm
Associate

Nelva Smith practices in the area of labor and employment law.  Prior to receiving her Juris Doctorate, she was a legal assistant with Scott, Scriven & Wahoff LLP, and was a third party workers’ compensation claims adjuster.  Ms. Smith is experienced representing and defending employers against workers’ compensation claims and defending employers in OSHA matters throughout the United States, as well as charges filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

614-456-1656
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