The Biden administration is implementing Covid-19 workplace safety rules for millions of healthcare workers, limiting a plan that could have spread to all industries.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said on Thursday that the new rules would only apply to healthcare facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The Ministry of Labor estimates that around 10 million healthcare workers, or about 7% of the total workforce, will fall under the rules.
The rule will take effect after it is published in the Federal Register, the exact timing of which is not clear.
Under the new regulations, employers in the healthcare sector must develop a written plan to combat Covid-19, provide personal protective equipment to some employees, and ensure workers stay 6 feet away from one of the the other.
The standard also ensures that healthcare workers will be given paid time off to get vaccinated against the coronavirus and recover from side effects. Employees who contract Covid-19 must work remotely, be separated from co-workers or be granted paid leave of up to $ 1,400 per week, under the regulations.
Mask requirements will be based on an employee’s specific job and their level of exposure to Covid-19 at work, a Labor Department official said on Thursday.
The new OSHA rule comes after a process of several months. President Biden ordered the agency to consider an emergency standard by March 15 after the Trump administration failed to pursue virus-specific requirements. The department missed that deadline after Mr Walsh determined the rule should reflect the latest scientific evidence on Covid-19.
Some advocates representing workers in industries outside of health care have been disappointed with the rule. “All workers deserve protection, regardless of the sector. This year, workers and families working in fields, construction, catering and many more have been exposed to COVID every day, ”said Hodaliz Mariana Borrayes, organizer of the workers ‘advocacy group Pioneer Valley Workers’ Center , in a press release.
The US Chamber of Commerce did not immediately comment.
Many Republicans and business groups have opposed an emergency standard, arguing that increasing vaccination rates and workplace safety measures make such regulation unnecessary.
The Biden administration is separately updating guidelines it says will help employers protect unvaccinated workers. The advice focuses in particular on industries that involve face-to-face contact, such as meat processing, manufacturing, seafood, grocery and retail.
Write to Sarah Chaney Cambon at [email protected]
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