House hearing held on strategies to protect workers from COVID-19

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House hearing held on strategies to protect workers from COVID-19
tjordan_drupal
Mar 11, 2021

The House Education & Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections today held a hearing on science-based strategies to protect workers from COVID-19.

Topics included whether the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should issue an Emergency Temporary Standard that requires employers to take additional steps to keep workers safe from COVID-19.

The Biden administration recently released an executive order that provides for OSHA to consider whether an ETS, including with respect to mask wearing, is necessary and if so to issue a standard by March 15. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to hold that COVID-19 primarily spreads through close contact, not airborne transmission, except when doing certain aerosolizing procedures.

“A rigid new standard has real potential to add for hospitals and health systems a new layer of conflicting and impractical regulatory burden at precisely the wrong time,” AHA said in a statement submitted for the hearing. “A new standard could lack the flexibility of ongoing guidance from the CDC and could easily fail to acknowledge ongoing surges in COVID-19 infections that can deplete the supply of [personal protective equipment]. Enacting these new standards could force hospitals and their staffs into a nearly impossible decision — to either not comply with the standards in order to treat all of the patients who need help or comply with the standards and stop treating patients when supplies of OSHA-required equipment are exhausted. Any new standard should be promulgated in a manner that would allow future updates, based on current CDC guidance, to be made automatically.”

The committee also discussed two workplace-related bills. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1195) would direct the Secretary of Labor to issue on an expedited timetable for an OSHA standard requiring employers in the health care and social service fields to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan.

The Accurate Workplace Injury and Illness Records Restoration Act (H.R. 1180) addresses compliance with employer responsibilities to maintain accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.

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House hearing held on strategies to protect workers from COVID-19
tjordan_drupal
Mar 11, 2021

The House Education & Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections today held a hearing on science-based strategies to protect workers from COVID-19.

Topics included whether the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration should issue an Emergency Temporary Standard that requires employers to take additional steps to keep workers safe from COVID-19.

The Biden administration recently released an executive order that provides for OSHA to consider whether an ETS, including with respect to mask wearing, is necessary and if so to issue a standard by March 15. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to hold that COVID-19 primarily spreads through close contact, not airborne transmission, except when doing certain aerosolizing procedures.

“A rigid new standard has real potential to add for hospitals and health systems a new layer of conflicting and impractical regulatory burden at precisely the wrong time,” AHA said in a statement submitted for the hearing. “A new standard could lack the flexibility of ongoing guidance from the CDC and could easily fail to acknowledge ongoing surges in COVID-19 infections that can deplete the supply of [personal protective equipment]. Enacting these new standards could force hospitals and their staffs into a nearly impossible decision — to either not comply with the standards in order to treat all of the patients who need help or comply with the standards and stop treating patients when supplies of OSHA-required equipment are exhausted. Any new standard should be promulgated in a manner that would allow future updates, based on current CDC guidance, to be made automatically.”

The committee also discussed two workplace-related bills. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1195) would direct the Secretary of Labor to issue on an expedited timetable for an OSHA standard requiring employers in the health care and social service fields to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan.

The Accurate Workplace Injury and Illness Records Restoration Act (H.R. 1180) addresses compliance with employer responsibilities to maintain accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.

Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19)

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