COVID-19 OSHA Standard Expected as Top Priority for Biden Administration

  • by AGD Washington Advocacy Representative
  • Nov 19, 2020
One of the first actions anticipated by President-elect Joe Biden's Administration will be implementing mandatory workplace safety rules that employers must follow to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure. 

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has held off from issuing an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency temporary standard (ETS), instead relying on the general duty clause contained in the OSHA statute to cite employers for hazards caused by exposing workers to COVID-19. This has prompted several states to promulgate their own worker safety rules for COVID-19. 

While there is uncertainty over what would be included in a federal OSHA COVID-19 ETS from the Biden Administration, many predict it will mandate CDC guidelines (dental settings). Another potential indicator of what may come is action from California's OSHA on a proposed emergency standard, as the current Cal/OSHA Chief, Doug Parker, is part of the Biden-Harris DOL transition team.

An emergency standard could be advanced and implemented immediately and would stay in effect until a permanent OSHA standard is developed, issued, and commented on by the public. 

Impact on General Dentistry: AGD will be closely monitoring and responding to developments from the incoming Administration on an OSHA COVID-19 ETS and all guidance issued by federal agencies. A "one-size-fits-all" standard that lacks flexibility could impede the response to the virus, as well as American's general health and wellness. While many businesses are concerned about the implications of such a standard, it could be incredibly impactful on dental practices and other health care providers.