Federal rules around COVID and health care workplaces lapse
Share Now on:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration created the emergency rules in June as part of a pledge by President Joe Biden to strengthen workplace COVID safety, but the rules expired after six months.
OSHA had required health care employers to provide things like training, respirators and adequate ventilation. It was the only COVID-specific workplace standard the agency has issued during the pandemic.
According to Jean Ross with National Nurses United, it’s still needed.
“This is still an emergency for nurses and other health care workers,” she said.
But emergency standards like this one — issued without the usual regulatory process — only last six months. OSHA said it won’t extend or replace it.
The agency is pursuing a permanent standard for COVID and other infectious diseases, but that process can take years or even decades, said former OSHA official Jordan Barab.
“So, obviously OSHA issuing a permanent standard is not going to be adequate to address the current COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
Employers are still required to provide a safe workplace, but Barab said without legally binding guidelines specific to COVID, that will be much more open to interpretation.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.