The AAMC submitted comments on April 20 in response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) notice of reopening of the comment period for the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) Occupational Exposure to COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings [refer to Washington Highlights, Aug. 6, 2021]. Earlier this month, the AAMC asked the agency to extend the deadline for comment submission by a minimum of 30 days [refer to Washington Highlights, April 8].
In its comments, the AAMC expressed support of OSHA’s proposal to align ETS requirements with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for health care infection control practices, many of which are triggered based on community transmission of COVID-19. “Allowing hospitals and health systems flexibility to relax information collection and reporting when prevalence is low will decrease burden,” the letter stated. The comments also noted that aligning with the CDC’s requirements will also help to “decrease confusion and burden associated with implementing both sets of standards.” To provide additional flexibility for employers, the AAMC asked OSHA to consider releasing standards in the form of guidance, instead of regulation, so that they can quickly respond to the public health emergency and more easily incorporate recommendations for workplace standards identified by the CDC, medical professionals, and scientists.
The letter also called on OSHA to decrease reporting of COVID-19 infections and to eliminate the requirement for hospitals to maintain records of COVID-19 infections. “[R]eporting to OSHA on COVID-19 fatalities and hospitalizations should be changed to weekly reporting given the low prevalence among fully vaccinated individuals. Weekly reporting also aligns with other federal COVID-19 reporting requirements for health care institutions,” the letter stated.