The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday released its draft of a permanent COVID-19 standard for healthcare workers, an agency spokeswoman said.
The draft, which was submitted to 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 temporary emergency standard for covid-19 expired in December 2021.
The agency had published the six-month temporary emergency standard on June 21, 2021, “to protect health care and health care 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 improved sanitation and ventilation procedures.
After an expedited public hearing earlier this year, safety groups and OSHA advocates have been on the hunt for a standard.
The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health issued a statement Thursday applauding OSHA̵7;s efforts to develop a permanent standard.
“It’s an important step forward in providing protection from the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases for the millions of healthcare workers who have risked their lives to care for the rest of us during this pandemic,” said National COSH Co-Executive Director Jessica E. Martinez in a statement. She urged 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 working in healthcare settings.”