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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday submitted its draft of a permanent COVID-19 standard for health care workers, an agency spokeswoman said.
The draft, which was filed with the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, is not yet available to the public. OSHA had promised the draft since its COVID-19 emergency temporary standard expired in December 2021.
The agency had published the six-month emergency temporary standard on June 21, 2021, “to protect health care and health care support service workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19 in settings where people with COVID-19 are reasonably expected to be present.”
That standard included masking, testing, record-keeping, and enhanced sanitation and ventilation procedures.
Following an expedited public hearing process earlier this year safety groups and OSHA attorneys have been on the lookout for a standard.
The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health issued a statement Thursday applauding OSHA’s efforts to develop a permanent standard.
“It’s an important step forward to provide protections against the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases for millions of health care workers who have risked their lives to take care of the rest of us during this pandemic,” said National COSH Co-executive director Jessica E. Martinez in a statement. She called on OSHA to expand the standard, eventually, to all workers.
“Let’s be clear,” she said. “This pandemic is not over, and all exposed workers need protection, not just those who work in health care settings.”