By James L. Curtis, Brent I. ClarkMark A. LiesAdam YoungPatrick D. Joyce, A. Scott Hecker, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: The U.S. Department of Labor reported today that “U.S. healthcare workers experienced a staggering 249 percent increase in injury and illness rates in 2020, based on employer-reported data, as they encountered serious safety and health hazards while serving those in need and labored countless hours battling the pandemic. In fact, healthcare and social assistance workers combined for more injuries and illnesses than any other industry in the nation.”

OSHA stated that it is working “expeditiously to issue a final standard to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19.” The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Douglas Parker, said that the “dangers healthcare workers face continue to be of the highest concern and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are still needed to protect them.”  However, healthcare workers face numerous safety hazards every day well beyond the hazards associated with COVID-19. Accordingly, OSHA is urging healthcare employers to continue to comply with their obligations under the General Duty Clause, the Personal Protective Equipment and Respiratory Protection Standards, as well as other applicable OSHA standards to protect their employees against workplace hazards faced by healthcare workers.

Based upon the significant increase in workplace injury and illness being experienced by healthcare workers, healthcare employers can expect that OSHA will increase oversight and enforcement activity in this industry. Employers are advised to review their safety and health policies and procedures to ensure they are accurate and up to date and to double check that their employees have been trained in the procedures and have the necessary PPE to properly protect themselves from identified hazards.

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the author, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.