American Hospital Association calls for withdrawal of OSHA's temporary COVID-19 standard for healthcare workers

Citing efforts already in place at hospitals, the American Hospital Association is urging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withdraw its COVID-19 emergency temporary standard for healthcare workers.

An Aug. 20 letter from the association calls on OSHA to move forward with a withdrawal of the emergency temporary standard interim final rule, or allow the standard to expire at the end of the six months and not issue a final rule.

"Considering hospitals' and health systems' long-standing commitment to adhering to the CDC's science-based guidance and recommendations and the strong movement towards vaccinating all healthcare workers, we do not believe that the ETS is necessary," the association wrote.

OSHA released the standard on June 10, which includes a requirement that healthcare employers give workers paid time off to get vaccinated, as well as rules regarding ventilation, physical barriers and other safety-related issues. The standard was published in the federal register June 21, with most of the provisions needing to be in effect within 14 days and the remaining ones within 30 days. 

On July 8, OSHA said it would extend the comment period for its standard to Aug. 20, so providers have more time to weigh in.

The American Hospital Association said that if OSHA declines to withdraw the standard, OSHA should reconsider the association's previous request to delay the standard compliance dates for at least an additional six months.

"Hospitals and health systems are struggling under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic's fourth wave and have told us that although they remain committed to following the CDC's guidance, they need more time to fully implement the ETS' many new requirements," the association wrote.

The association also recommended that OSHA address discrepancies between the standard requirements and CDC's evidence-based guidelines, as well as amend the physical distancing requirement to better account for vaccination status of healthcare workers and community members, among other recommendations.

Read the full letter here

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