On June 10, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) announced “an emergency temporary standard to protect healthcare workers from contracting coronavirus.” The standard focuses on healthcare workers that are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, aiming to increase protections for those who “continue to be at high risk of contracting the [disease] . . . while they provide us with critical healthcare services.”

The new standard, linked here, will become effective immediately upon publication to the Federal Register. The standard lays out new requirements for settings where any employee provides health care services or health care support services, including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other similar locations. A few defined exceptions are included in the text of the standard, including circumstances relating to the workplace’s vaccination status, entry-screening practices, and whether there is a reasonable expectation any person with suspected or confirmed coronavirus will be present. Along with the new standard, OSHA also released a helpful flow chart to help employers determine whether they are subject the new rules. Depending on the requirement, covered employers will be required to comply with the standards within 14-30 days of the effective date.

The standard outlines various COVID-19 protections that covered healthcare employers must abide by. First, it requires covered employers to develop and implement a COVID-19 plan for each workplace and designate safety coordinator(s) to implement and monitor the plan. The plan must address identified “workplace-specific hazards,” and develop policies and procedures to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to employees. Employers must also keep a log to record instances of COVID-19 infection among employees, regardless of whether the instance is connected to exposure to COVID-19 at work, and promptly report certain events (such as work-related COVID-19 fatalities and inpatient hospitalizations) to OSHA.

The standard also requires the employers to screen all entrants to settings where direct patient care is provided, implement policies and procedures to ensure adherence to certain CDC guidelines, and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees in certain defined scenarios. Additionally, the standard describes certain safety precautions that should be taken when aerosol-generating procedures are performed on individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infections.

Covered employers are also required to implement physical distancing measures, physical barriers, cleaning and disinfection practices, and meet certain ventilation protocols. Furthermore, the standard requires employers to abide by certain “health screening and medical management guidelines” to reduce workplace transmission of COVID-19. Employees should also be given reasonable time and paid leave for vaccinations and any associated side effects. Lastly, the standard requires employers to train employees on COVID-19 transmission and prevention, and to inform them of their rights, which they must be able to exercise without retaliation or discrimination.

The standard released last week has been anticipated for months; President Biden directed OSHA to consider releasing emergency temporary standards for workplace safety in an Executive Order dated January 21, 2021.

For more information on OSHA’s emergency temporary standard, see OSHA’s fact sheet.

Photo of Guy Brenner Guy Brenner

Guy Brenner is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and leads the Firm’s Washington, D.C. Labor & Employment practice. He is head of the Government Contractor Compliance Group and is co-head of the Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Group. He has…

Guy Brenner is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and leads the Firm’s Washington, D.C. Labor & Employment practice. He is head of the Government Contractor Compliance Group and is co-head of the Non-Compete & Trade Secrets Group. He has extensive experience representing employers in both single-plaintiff and class action matters, as well as in arbitration proceedings. He also regularly assists federal government contractors with the many special employment-related compliance challenges they face.

Guy represents employers in all aspects of employment and labor litigation and counseling, with an emphasis on non-compete and trade secrets issues, medical and disability leave matters, employee/independent contractor classification issues, and the investigation and litigation of whistleblower claims. He assists employers in negotiating and drafting executive agreements and employee mobility agreements, including non-competition, non-solicit and non-disclosure agreements, and also conducts and supervises internal investigations. He also regularly advises clients on pay equity matters, including privileged pay equity analyses.

Guy advises federal government contractors and subcontractors all aspects of Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regulations and requirements, including preparing affirmative action plans, responding to desk audits, and managing on-site audits.

Photo of Edward S. Kornreich Edward S. Kornreich

Past long-standing chair of Proskauer’s Health Care Department, Ed Kornreich is a recognized authority on the legal, regulatory and business issues related to health care services.

Ed works primarily on health care transactions, regulatory compliance, health care payment and governance issues for varied…

Past long-standing chair of Proskauer’s Health Care Department, Ed Kornreich is a recognized authority on the legal, regulatory and business issues related to health care services.

Ed works primarily on health care transactions, regulatory compliance, health care payment and governance issues for varied providers (both for-profit and not-for-profit), vendors, GPOs, distributors and entrepreneurs. His approach combines sensitivity to meeting regulatory business goals with a comprehensive and realistic assessment of the health care environment, and he is particularly experienced in dealing with the complex issues related to integrated health care systems.

After working for the Legal Aid Society, Ed entered private practice, where he helped represent a major public hospital corporation in a series of reimbursement disputes with the state and federal governments, and counseled New York area hospitals and nursing homes on reimbursement and operational issues. Thereafter, Ed served as General Counsel of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York. After leaving St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Ed joined Proskauer as a Partner in 1990.

Ed frequently writes and lectures on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, health care integration, not-for-profit law and corporate governance issues, and the application of federal and state anti-kickback and “Stark” laws to health care transactions.

Photo of Krusheeta R. Patel Krusheeta R. Patel

Krusheeta Patel is an associate in the Corporate Department and a member of the Health Care Group.

Krusheeta received her J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she participated in the Adolescent Representation Clinic and was a Staff Editor for the Human Rights Law

Krusheeta Patel is an associate in the Corporate Department and a member of the Health Care Group.

Krusheeta received her J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she participated in the Adolescent Representation Clinic and was a Staff Editor for the Human Rights Law Review. As a participant in New York’s Pro Bono Scholars Program, Krusheeta spent her final semester of law school working at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House with the Health Care and Benefits team. Krusheeta earned her B.A. in Health and Societies with a concentration in Health Care Markets and Finance from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating magna cum laude.

Photo of Lexie Reynolds Lexie Reynolds

Lexie Reynolds is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department, and a member of the Employment Law Counseling & Training, Employment Litigation & Arbitration, and the Discriminatory, Harassment, and Title VII Practice Groups. Lexie’s practice covers a wide range of matters…

Lexie Reynolds is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department, and a member of the Employment Law Counseling & Training, Employment Litigation & Arbitration, and the Discriminatory, Harassment, and Title VII Practice Groups. Lexie’s practice covers a wide range of matters with a focus on internal corporate and government investigations. She has represented private and public companies, boards of directors and their committees, and individuals across many different industries including entertainment, financial services, and technology.

Lexie has advised and assisted clients in a variety of internal investigations as well as government enforcement actions involving the DOL, DOJ, and SEC. She has litigated matters at the administrative, state, and federal level, including a federal court trial. She has experience in matters involving Title VII discrimination, fraud, whistleblower activity, and retaliation.

Lexie is also dedicated to pro bono work and has represented individuals at the state administrative, federal court, and appellate levels including matters involving discrimination, veteran benefits, and immigration. Additionally, she has volunteered her time each year to mentor middle school students in a mock trial program aimed at developing public speaking, self-confidence, and awareness of legal rights.

While in law school, Lexie litigated criminal matters, representing juvenile and adult individuals in state court. Additionally, she interned at the Boston Juvenile Court and the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate.