The Biden administration is rolling out Covid-19 workplace safety rules for millions of healthcare workers, limiting a plan that could have spread across all industries.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Thursday that the new rules will apply only to healthcare settings, including hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The Department of Labor estimates that approximately 10 million healthcare workers, or approximately 7% of the overall workforce, will abide by the rules.
“It has been very difficult with the orientation and the virus has changed in the last few months,” said Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. OSHA is part of the Department of Labor. “Science tells us that healthcare workers, particularly those who come in regular contact with the virus, are most at risk at this point in the pandemic.”
The rule will take effect after it is published in the Federal Register, the exact timing of which is unclear.
Under the new regulation, healthcare employers must develop a written plan to address Covid-19, provide personal protective equipment to some employees, and ensure that workers remain 6 feet apart.
The standard also guarantees that healthcare workers will receive paid time off to get vaccinated against the coronavirus and recover from side effects. Employees who hire Covid-19 must work remotely, be separated from their co-workers or receive paid time off in the amount of up to $ 1,400 per week, according to regulation.
The mask requirements will be based on the employee’s specific job and their level of exposure to Covid-19 at work, a Labor Department official said Thursday.
OSHA’s new regulation comes after a months-long process. President Biden directed the agency to consider an emergency standard by March 15 after the Trump administration failed to meet specific virus requirements. The department missed that deadline after Walsh determined that the rule should reflect the most recent scientific evidence on Covid-19.
Some advocates representing workers in industries outside of healthcare were disappointed with the rule. “All workers deserve protection, regardless of the industry. This year, workers and families who work in the fields, construction, restaurants and many others have been exposed to COVID every day, ”said in a statement Hodaliz Mariana Borrayes, organizer of the workers’ advocacy group Pioneer Valley Workers ‘Center.
Marc Freedman, vice president for employment policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, said the business group was “disappointed that OSHA has moved forward with issuing a temporary emergency standard as with each passing week, thanks to With increasing levels of vaccination, the country is coming closer to resume normal interactions. “
The Biden administration is separately updating guidance that it says will help employers protect unvaccinated workers. The guide focuses particularly on industries that involve face-to-face contact, such as meat processing, manufacturing, seafood, grocery, and retail.
Write to Sarah Chaney Cambon at [email protected]
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