OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for healthcare employers was published in the Federal Register on June 21 and applies in settings where any employee provides healthcare services or healthcare support services. Kentucky adopted 803 KAR 2:330E on July 20, 2021, to implement OSHA’s ETS and included specific provisions related to the reporting requirements that differ from OSHA’s ETS, as explained below.
The ETS defines healthcare services as those services that are provided to individuals by professional healthcare practitioners (e.g., doctors, nurses, emergency medical personnel, oral health professionals) for the purpose of:
- Promoting health;
- Maintaining health;
- Monitoring health; or
- Restoring health.
Healthcare services are provided through:
- Long-term care;
- Ambulatory care;
- Home health and hospice care;
- Emergency medical response; and
- Patient transport.
As such, if your city provides healthcare services through emergency medical response, you will need to develop and implement a COVID-19 plan.
The ETS is aligned with the existing CDC requirements, and cities with CDC-compliant guidelines should already be meeting the ETS requirements. However, employers with more than ten employees must have a written COVID-19 ETS plan.
The essential elements of the ETS plan include:
- Workplace-specific COVID-19 hazard assessment;
- Written COVID-19 prevention plan;
- Designated workplace COVID-19 safety coordinator(s);
- Patient screening and management;
- CDC-recommended Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions;
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) provisions that include information on a mini-respiratory protection program for voluntary-use respirators;
- Special requirements for aerosol-generating procedures on suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases;
- Physical distancing;
- Physical barriers, which OSHA notes may be infeasible in certain work settings, such as in an ambulance; however, the employer must still demonstrate the infeasibility to comply and additional protection such as PPE, cleaning and disinfecting;
- Cleaning and disinfection requirements;
- Ventilation for buildings with existing heat and HVAC systems, which likely would not apply to emergency medical responders as there is no healthcare facility where patients enter;
- Health screening of employees before each shift, employee notification requirements of COVID-19 illness and symptoms, and employer notification requirements when there is a possible exposure;
- Medical removal protection benefits providing specific pay provisions for healthcare employees who have been removed from the workplace due to COVID-19, even if the employee is unable to work remotely;
- Time to receive vaccinations and time off for possible side-effects;
- Training on the provisions of the ETS and the employer policies;
- Recordkeeping – new requirement for a separate COVID-19 log to include all positive employee cases, regardless of whether the instance is connected to exposure to COVID–19 at work;
- Employers must report all COVID-19 fatalities and hospitalizations to the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, Department of Workplace Standards, Division of Occupational Health and Compliance at 502-564-3070, regardless of how long after the exposure they occur but within eight hours of learning of a fatality and within 72 hours of learning of an in-patient hospitalization. If the employer cannot speak to someone in the Frankfort office, the employer shall make the report to the OSHA toll-free number at 1-800-321 OSHA (1-800-321-6742), pursuant to the Kentucky Statement of Emergency 803 KAR 2:330E adopted July 20, 2021; and
- Anti-retaliation provisions as well as employer notification requirements.
As mentioned above, the ETS was effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register on June 21, 2021, and applicable employers should have complied with most provisions within 14 days after publication, which was July 6, 2021. The remaining provisions involving physical barriers, ventilation and training should have been implemented within 30 days of publication, which was July 21, 2021.
Additional information, FAQs and implementation assistance for the ETS can be found on the OSHA website. For a sample COVID-19 plan or for more information on this or any other personnel matter, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, KLC personnel services manager