OSHA's COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard Expected Very Soon

  • by AGD Washington Advocacy Representative
  • May 12, 2021
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has sent its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for review, a step before the ETS is made public. The rule is expected to include requirements that employers supply their workers with masks, have a written plan to avoid exposure in the workplace, and provide certain sick leave benefits to employees who take leave due to potential COVID-19 exposure or diagnoses. OSHA is likely to mandate different requirements in the rule as it pertains to health care workplace settings.

OSHA can issue emergency temporary standards when the agency determines "workers are in grave danger due to exposure to toxic substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards." The last time OSHA used the ETS to require employers to provide protection to their workers was in 1983.

The OSHA ETS will serve as the basis for the regulatory rulemaking on a permanent OSHA COVID-19 workplace standard. Four states (California, Oregon, Michigan, and Virginia) have already adopted a COVID-19 ETS at the state level.

Impact on General Dentistry: AGD plans to respond to the OSHA ETS pending review of the regulation's final provisions and requirements. Dentistry has a strong record of robust infection control practices, and a recent survey reported that 99.7% of dental practices had implemented enhanced infection control procedures in response to COVID-19. AGD does not support onerous "one-size-fits-all" regulations that do not consider the unique circumstances associated with providing dental care.