By A. Scott HeckerAdam R. Young, Patrick D. JoyceJames L. Curtis, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: On December 7, 2022, OSHA submitted its “Occupational Exposure to COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings” standard to the White House Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (“OIRA”) for final review.

OSHA published a flowchart to help workplaces determine if they were covered under OSHA’s now-expired COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”). OSHA announced the withdrawal of its healthcare-focused ETS on December 27, 2021, almost a year ago, acknowledging that it could not meet the OSH Act’s six-month deadline to issue a permanent standard. In the announcement withdrawing the non-recordkeeping provisions of the ETS, OSHA further advised “that it intend[ed] to continue to work expeditiously to issue a final standard that will protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 hazards, and will do so as it also considers its broader infectious disease rulemaking.”

As we blogged with respect to the now-defunct COVID-19 “Vax or Test” rulemaking, OIRA review is one of the last steps in the regulatory process before the Federal Register publishes a final rule. While OIRA’s review timelines can vary, and the rule’s text is not yet public, healthcare sector employers should be aware of this development to prepare for compliance in the coming months, likely the first quarter of 2023.

By any measure, we seem to be approaching the end of the healthcare COVID-19 rulemaking process, and we anticipate the new healthcare permanent standard to closely track most requirements from the healthcare ETS (which many hospitals retained). But hospitals and other health care employers should be attuned to new COVID-19 requirements and protocols.  Stakeholders also should remain mindful for any forthcoming “broader” infectious disease rulemaking from OSHA as well.

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