By Conn Maciel Carey’s COVID-19 Task Force
Today’s topics on the Fed OSHA COVID-19 ETS are vaccination, and patient screening and management.
29 C.F.R. Section 1910.502(m) requires that all employers covered by the ETS support COVID-19 vaccination for each employee. This summary describes the vaccination requirements of the ETS.
To support COVID-19 vaccination, employers must provide to their employees:
- reasonable time during work hours for employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, and
- paid leave for employees to receive vaccinations and any side effects experienced following vaccination (to the extent these occur during regular work hours).
“Reasonable time” may include, but is not limited to:
- registering for vaccination appointments
- completing paperwork required before receiving the vaccination
- receiving the shot
- waiting during the post-vaccination monitoring period
- traveling to and from the place of vaccination administration.
“Paid leave” includes paid sick leave already accrued by the employee if available, any additional paid leave provided by the employer for this purpose and/or administrative leave. The details of paid leave may vary depending on the circumstances. Employers may set a “reasonable cap” on the amount of time and paid leave available to employees to receive each dose of the vaccine and to recover from any side effects. Generally, OSHA presumes that, if an employer makes available to its employees four hours of paid leave for each dose of the vaccine, as well as up to 16 additional hours of leave for any side effects of the dose(s) (or 8 hours per dose), the employer would be in compliance with this requirement.
Recall that, with regard to the COVID-19 Plan requirements set forth in 29 C.F.R. §1910.502(c), in the event that all employees are “fully vaccinated,” and the employer’s COVID-19 Plan includes policies and procedures to determine employees’ vaccination status, the employer may be exempt from providing controls in a well-defined area under paragraph (a)(4).
Patient Screening and Management
29 C.F.R. Section 1910.502(d) establishes patient screening and management requirements that must be implemented at covered facilities. This summary identifies these requirements.
In settings where direct patient care is provided, the employer must:
- Limit and monitor points of entry to the settings (except where emergency responders or other licensed healthcare providers enter a non-healthcare setting to provide healthcare services);
- Screen and triage all clients, patients, residents, delivery people and other visitors, and other non-employees entering the setting;
- Implement other applicable patient management strategies in accordance with CDC’s “COVID–19 Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations.”
OSHA informs that screening may take different forms depending on the design and size of the facility; however, at a minimum, employers must ask questions about COVID-19 symptoms and illness. Screening may also include confirming that individuals are abiding by any policies and procedures for wearing face coverings, as well as assessing individuals’ recent exposures to COVID-19. To comply with the screening requirement, an employer could assign an employee to each entrance to perform a health screening on each individual entering the facility. Employers could also contact patients, clients, residents, or other visitors by phone or video, prior to their arrival at the facility, to conduct the screening.
The ETS also includes a note that employers are encouraged to use telehealth services where available and appropriate in order to limit the number of people entering the workplace.
Please contact any of the OSHA attorneys in Conn Maciel Carey’s national OSHA Practice if you need help determining ETS requirements regarding vaccinations, and patient screening and management. Also, check out our articles about other sections of the ETS, including:
- Face Masks, Respiratory Protection and Other PPE
- Hazard Assessments and COVID-19 Plans
- Physical Barriers
- Physical Distancing
Look for another blog soon!