The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not currently have a specific standard that protects health care or other workers from airborne or aerosol transmission of disease or diseases transmitted by airborne droplets.
Some in Congress, and some groups representing health care, meat and poultry processing, and other workers, are calling on OSHA to promulgate an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect workers from exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) gives OSHA the ability to promulgate an ETS that would remain in effect for up to six months without going through the normal review and comment process of rulemaking. OSHA, however, has rarely used this authority in the past—not since the courts struck down its ETS on asbestos in 1983.
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.