US Department of Labor Announces Enforcement, Effort for Focused Inspections in Hospitals, Nursing Care Facilities Treating COVID-19 Patients
OSHA recently released a memorandum directing all Area Offices to increase COVID-19 focused inspections and follow up inspections at hospitals and skilled nursing facilities that treat or handle COVID-19 patients. Although COVID-19 cases are once again decreasing across the country, OSHA plans to increase COVID-19 inspections to ensure healthcare providers are ready for any new future variants. This enforcement initiative will be in effect for three months beginning on March 9, 2022 through June 9, 2022. This three-month enforcement initiative along with the revised COVID-19 National Emphasis Program will comprise approximately 15% of OSHA’s enforcement activity. During this time-period, OSHA will verify and assess hospitals and skilled nursing facility providers’ compliance efforts and readiness to combat future COVID-19 surges.
OSHA Area Office have already been instructed to generate a list of previously inspected hospitals and skilled nursing facilities that were issued citations, complaints, and/or hazard alert letters. Therefore, healthcare providers who previously received COVID-19 citations, complaints, or hazard alert letters (even if those have now been closed) should be on high alert for a possible in person follow up inspection. OSHA’s inspections will focus on assessing the following COVID-19 mitigation strategies of hospitals and skilled nursing facilities:
- Whether prior COVID-19 related violations have been corrected with review of abatement certification
- Review of the employer’s COVID-19 plan
- Verification of vaccination protocols and any vaccination related deficiencies will be referred to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
- Review of OSHA 300 logs
- Review of the facility’s policies and procedures related to hazard assessment and PPE use
- Review of the employer’s respiratory protection program (medical evaluations, fit testing, and PPE training)
- Screening of employees
- Walk around inspections of the designated treatment areas for COVID-19 patients
- Conducting employee interviews to ensure the employer’s compliance with COVID-19 initiatives
At this time, it would be wise to review your COVID-19 mitigation strategies and ensure all written documentation is in place in the event of an upcoming inspection. If any noncompliance is identified during the inspection, OSHA is authorized to issue new violations.
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