SPONSORED:

Biden administration releases emergency temporary standard for healthcare facilities

Biden administration releases emergency temporary standard for healthcare facilities
© Getty Images

The Labor Department on Thursday released a COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) for health care workers, following more than a year of Democratic lawmakers pushing for such a standard the all front-line workers in the coronavirus pandemic.

The standard covers health care facilities treating COVID-19 and requires that employers comply with safety and health standards issued and enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), such as mask wearing and cleaning procedures.

It also requires health care facilities to provide their workers with a safe workplace free from recognized hazards and to notify them when there are exposed to infections.

ADVERTISEMENT

OSHA updated guidance for employers and workers not covered by the OSHA ETS that it deems higher-risk workplaces, including manufacturing, meatpacking plants, grocery stores and retail stores.

That guidance includes staggering break times, staffer worker arrivals and departure times, and providing visual cues like signs to maintain distancing.

The agency announced in April it sent a draft ETS on the coronavirus pandemic to the Office of Management and Budget, defending the extra time the agency took to move on establishing a standard. President BidenJoe BidenSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Biden appoints veteran housing, banking regulator as acting FHFA chief Iran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' MORE issued an executive order in January on protecting worker health and safety, which called on OSHA to issue an ETS by March 15.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Senators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Tim Cook called Pelosi to say tech antitrust bills were rushed MORE (D-Calif.) was critical of OSHA’s decision not to include other workers in the standard on Thursday and called the move for health care workers a “first step.” 

“OSHA’s decision to omit other frontline workers exposed to COVID-19, including farmworkers, grocery workers, workers in meat-packing facilities and those working in homeless shelters and prisons, is troubling and shortsighted,” she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

She added that House Democrats will continue to fight for broad safety standards for workers. 

“And we must do so in a way that addresses the inequities exposed by the pandemic, including the disproportionate exposure of workers of color to the virus,” the speaker said.

Democrats, unions and worker advocates have called for official OSHA COVID-19 standards since the onset of the pandemic. Former President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE’s OSHA refused to impose a nationwide safety standard, arguing that OSHA guidance was sufficient. 

OSHA can authorize an emergency standard if it determines workers are in grave danger. That standard can only be challenged in a U.S. court of appeals as opposed to OSHA guidance, which allows for flexibility and lets administration officials change it as they see fit.