Emergency Rules Require Practices to Implement a COVID-19 Plan Immediately

In response to President Biden’s Executive Order issued on January 21, 2021 directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take action to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace, OSHA has issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to set forth guidelines to protect healthcare workers. The ETS cryptically applies only to settings where any employee provides healthcare services or healthcare support services. There has been confusion in the health care community as to the applicability of the ETS to medical practices.

On August 23, 2021, the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) issued emergency rules that appear stricter than the federal ETS. Importantly for medical practices and other health care settings in Tennessee, the TOSHA rules appear to have more widespread applicability. It is likely that most medical practices had to immediately develop and implement a COVID-19 Plan by September 7. OSHA provided a template COVID-19 Plan that can be tailored to the needs of health care employers. TMA has enhanced it by providing some commentary and suggestions to make the Plan development process easier for TMA members.

TMA members need to quickly assess whether the ETS and TOSHA Rules apply to their practice setting and if so, immediately develop and implement a COVID-19 Plan for the setting. TMA hopes that its enhanced resource will assist members with compliance with these regulations which carry stiff penalties.

Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center page at www.tnmed.org/coronavirus to access TMA’s enhanced COVID-19 Plan resource.