Time is running out for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s COVID-19 healthcare emergency temporary standard, which was meant to protect healthcare sector workers from the spread of the coronavirus. The standard is set to expire Dec. 21 unless the agency makes it permanent or adopts changes.

The standard took effect June 21. Per the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an emergency temporary standard is effective until replaced by a permanent standard within six months.

If the standard expires, then it is likely that healthcare employers with 100 or more employees may have to comply with OSHA’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard; that standard currently exempts employers covered by the COVID-19 healthcare standard, Bloomberg Law reported

Senior living and care provider advocates previously said they were in favor of letting the standard time out, calling the workplace safety rules “burdensome” and “duplicative”. The American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living told McKnight’s that healthcare standards already exist in the covered settings; therefore, the organization said it opposes making the rule permanent. LeadingAge said that the healthcare standard “adds a layer of confusion and interferes with the abilities of professionals to make good, clinical decisions.”
OSHA likely will let the healthcare standard expire, according to a Congressional Research Service report updated Dec. 10. “OSHA has used its ETS authority sparingly in its history,” according to the report, which then cited several instances where OSHA did not attempt to extend a standard’s deadline.