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Small-business panel: No need for OSHA rule on infectious diseases


Washington – OSHA should not proceed with a proposed rule that would regulate infectious disease exposure in health care and related work settings, unless the agency can show risks justifying a new standard, a small-business panel has concluded.

As part of requirements under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, OSHA on Oct. 14 convened a panel of small-business employers to review its proposed regulation. The rule would address infectious diseases spread via non-bloodborne transmission, such as in the air or by direct contact. It also would require employers to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

In the panel’s report, made publicly available Jan. 12, small-business employers criticized OSHA’s proposal for requiring what the employers say they already do. Several regulatory bodies, including state agencies, already have requirements based on CDC’s recommendations.

The panel called on OSHA to review whether a new rule is necessary in light of existing regulations and guidance, and to assess available data on risks to determine the need for a rule for each potentially covered task and work setting.