The Occupational Health and Safety Administration's standard infectious disease standard may be boosted next year by the Agency trying to increase its regulatory budget by more than 50%.
However, the pressure comes as OSHA continues to wait for feedback on the proposed temporary emergency standard for COVID-19.
OSHA's 2020 and 2021 budget required the Agency to spend $ 18 million on safety and health standards, and in 2022 it calls for $ 28.5 million to help "restore OSHA regulatory and guidance capacity" with a focus on on issues involving workplace violence and infectious diseases.
The process of creating an infectious disease standard for healthcare professionals began specifically in 201
At the same time, security and legal experts say an ETS to deal with COVID-19 occupational safety – a process hat launched on 21 January – is likely still on tap despite the original deadline of 15 March.
OSHA will provide the White House Office of Management and Budget on 27 April with a draft ETS, which has been the subject of 49 meetings then. The last meeting was scheduled for Monday, but three more meetings were scheduled for this week. is in "serious danger." With vaccinations and small print nationwide, some experts say OSHA will face legal challenges, mainly from business, if the ETS for COVID-19 is adopted.
"I do not believe that the circumstances would allow OSHA to meet a serious hazard standard," said Eric Conn, Washington-based founder of Conn Maciel Carey LLP, adding that ETS remains on the table despite future challenges. "A serious danger can only be dealt with by this emergency rule, and it is difficult to categorize it as a serious danger in terms of cases, serious outcomes, vaccination levels … It would make it difficult for OSHA to reach this threshold.
Pat Tyson, partner and head of OSHA practice at the Atlanta office in Constangy, Brooks, Smith and Prophete LLP, wrote in an email that OSHA is likely to move forward with ETS.
"I think OSHA would rather be seen as trying to protect workers, even in the face of daunting legal challenges, as opposed to looking like they went into business interests," he wrote.  While the number of cases is low, "those who still work in confined spaces, those who work with the public still continue to get sick and die," said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Boston-based president of the National Council for Occupational Safety. and health.
"There are still many, many people who are not vaccinated and that puts all workers at risk," she said. "Having an emergency standard to implement a risk reduction plan continues to be needed, and that is a priority that is moving forward."
Companies should expect an ETS, as workers are still dying of COVID-19 and "it's enough to justify a standard in OSHA's eyes," says Gary Pearce, Waterford, Michigan-based risk and analysis firm Aclaimant Inc.
An ETS would also help OSHA push for priority and funding for a contagious disease
Meanwhile, Goldstein-Gelb said OSHA's efforts to create an infectious disease standard, or standards because the agency could move forward with one for healthcare professionals and another for all other workers, would not happen fast enough to protect workers in the ongoing COVID-9 pandemic.
John Ho, Norwalk, Connecticut-based labor and employment attorney and chairman of OSHA practice at Cozen O & Connor, said that the normal regulatory process to create a standard is the way to go, I instead of the ETS process, which does not require public hearings to be conducted.
"If OSHA wants to set together an infectious disease standard … I believe that the authority has the right to do so within the regulatory process ", which includes periods of public intervention, he said. “It does not rush and you give stakeholders the opportunity to comment; this is how it should normally go. "
More insurance and workers' compensation news about the coronavirus crisis here .