National COSH Welcomes Progress on Permanent COVID-19 Standard for Health Care Workers

8 Dec 2022

For immediate release- December 8, 2022
Contact: Melissa Moriarty, [email protected], 605.505.7135

National COSH Welcomes Progress on Permanent COVID-19 Standard for Health Care Workers

“This pandemic is not over and all exposed workers need protection,” says safety advocate; OMB should provide immediate, urgent review “with worker protection as the top priority.”

LOS ANGELES- Leaders of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) welcomed today’s announcement that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has moved a long-overdue permanent COVID-19 standard to protect health care workers to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final review.

“Let’s be clear,” said National COSH co-executive director Jessica E. Martinez. “This pandemic is not over and all exposed workers need protection, not just those who work in healthcare settings.”

“That said, it’s an important step forward to provide protections against the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases for millions of healthcare workers who have risked their lives to take care of the rest of us during this pandemic. OMB should immediately and urgently review this proposed standard, with worker protection as the top priority.”

Details of the permanent COVID-19 standard have not been publicly released pending OMB review. A   Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), adopted in June of 2021, requires health care employers to provide the following:

  • A COVID-19 plan, with involvement of non-managerial employees;
  • Personal Protective Equipment, including face masks and respirators as needed;
  • Physical distancing
  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Ventilation
  • Health screening
  • Time off and paid leave for vaccinations
  • Recordkeeping of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and fatalities.

Importantly, the Healthcare ETS spells out that employers may not retaliate against workers who exercise their rights under the standard, and requires that employers provide these protections “at no cost to employees.”

“The temporary protections against the spread of COVID-19 now available for healthcare workers are a starting point for a permanent standard,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, also a co-executive director of National COSH. “But we can’tstop there. Tens of millions of frontline workers- in manufacturing, food processing, restaurants, transportation and many other industries- are still at risk every day. Every worker has a right to a safe workplace- and that includes reducing the risk of exposure to deadly infectious diseases.”  

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace.For more information, please visit nationalcosh.org. Follow us @NationalCOSH on Facebook, @NationalCOSH on Twitter and @NationalCOSH on Instagram.