Story at a glance

  • Labor Department officials announced Thursday a temporary emergency COVID-19 reporting procedure to protect health care workers amid the pandemic crisis.
  • The guideline is aimed to ensure that employers remove workers who contract COVID-19, inform them of possible exposure and report employee hospitalizations and deaths to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • OSHA offered additional guidance for unvaccinated workers in high-risk settings.

Labor Department officials announced Thursday a temporary emergency COVID-19 reporting procedure to protect health care workers amid the pandemic crisis.

The guideline is aimed to ensure that employers remove workers who contract COVID-19, inform them of possible exposure and report employee hospitalizations and deaths to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Health care facilities will have 14 days to implement the rule. 

“These are the workers who continue to go into work day in and day out to take care of us, to save our lives,” Jim Frederick, acting assistant secretary of Labor for occupational safety and health, told Reuters. “And we must make sure we do everything in our power to return the favor to protect them.”


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OSHA offered additional guidance for unvaccinated workers in high-risk settings, according to the outlet. Facilities, under the guidance, might implement a series of physical distancing policies to further protect their staff. Frederick told Reuters that the agency will add inspectors to facilities to provide training and assistance to aid in compliance with the nonbinding guidance.

Barbara Rosen, vice president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union in New Jersey, told The Guardian the timing is a “little late,” but that it is a welcome addition. 

“If we had had this in place at the beginning, it would have saved a lot of lives and a lot of suffering that has gone on with health care workers and probably patients in hospitals because of the spread,” Rosen told the outlet. 

Data compiled by The Guardian and Kaiser Health News shows that, through April 8, more than 3,600 health care workers have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

President Biden issued an executive order in January targeted at protecting U.S. health care workers, saying the federal government would partner with state and local governments to protect public employees, enforce health and safety requirements and push for “additional resources to help employers protect employees.”

“Ensuring the health and safety of workers is a national priority and a moral imperative,” the president said in a statement. “Healthcare workers and other essential workers, many of whom are people of color and immigrants, have put their lives on the line during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.”


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Published on Jun 11, 2021