OSHA Establishes Worker Protections From COVID-19

June 12 • 2021

Emergency responders will receive worker protections from COVID-19 under an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Occupational Exposure to COVID-19, Emergency Temporary Standard establishes protections for workers who are exposed to COVID-19 in settings where people with COVID-19 are reasonably expected to be present.

The ETS applies to healthcare workers, including emergency responders, while providing healthcare services to a known or suspected COVID-19 patient. The standard requires employers take actions to protect workers, including:

  • Developing and implementing a plan to identify and control COVID-19 in the workplace, including conducting a workplace-specific hazard assessment, with the input and involvement of non-managerial employees and their representatives.
  • Designating one or more workplace COVID-19 safety coordinators to implement and monitor the plan.
  • Requiring the provision of respirators, gloves and other personal protective clothing to employees exposed to potentially infected persons.
  • Requiring the provision of paid leave to employees for the purposes of vaccination against COVID-19 and for any side effects experienced following vaccination.
  • Requiring that each employee receive training, including patient screening and management, preventing spread, personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning and disinfection, health screening and medical management, and sick leave.
  • Record all instances of COVID-19 positives in a log and report to OSHA any hospitalizations or fatalities within a specified time frame.

An ETS serves as a template for a permanent standard. A permanent standard is to be finalized within six months. Learn more about ETS.