AAMC submitted comments April 20 in response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) announcement reopening the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) comment period 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 submitting comments by at least 30 days [refer to Washington Highlights, April 8].
In its comments, the AAMC expressed support for OSHA’s proposal to adapt the ETS requirements to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for infection control in the healthcare system, many of which are triggered based on community transmission of COVID-19. “Allowing hospitals and healthcare systems flexibility to relax information gathering and reporting when prevalence is low will reduce the burden,” the letter said. The comments also noted that alignment with the CDC’s requirements will also help “reduce the confusion and burden associated with implementing both sets of standards.” To give employers additional flexibility, AAMC asked OSHA to consider releasing standards in the form of guidance rather than regulation so that they can respond quickly to public health emergencies and more easily incorporate recommendations for workplace standards identified by the CDC, medical professionals and scientists.
The letter also called on OSHA to reduce the reporting of COVID-19 infections and remove the requirement for hospitals to keep records of COVID-19 infections. “[R]reporting to OSHA on COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations should be changed to weekly reporting due to the low prevalence among fully vaccinated individuals. “Weekly reporting is also in line with other federal COVID-19 reporting requirements for healthcare facilities,” the letter said.