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COVID-19 and health care workers: OSHA’s Doug Parker says permanent rule may be ready by fall

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Washington — A permanent standard on COVID-19 for the health care industry could be finalized in the fall, OSHA administrator Doug Parker testified May 25 during a House Workforce Protections Subcommittee hearing.

Parker added that his agency, in collaboration with the Small Business Administration, intends to convene a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act panel to review a potential standard on preventing workplace violence in health care settings.

Although OSHA’s priority is to finish its rulemaking on the COVID-19 in health care rule and an infectious disease rule focused on health care workers, “it’s not keeping us from doing other work,” Parker said, adding that the agency is working “very diligently” on the workplace violence in health care standard.

When asked by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) whether OSHA could have a standard on heat injury and illness prevention finalized by spring 2024, Parker said that “could be challenging.”

He continued: “It just depends on the rate at which rulemaking goes. The COVID rulemaking and the prioritization of infectious disease … has taken some valuable time. It has set back some of our other important health-related rulemaking.”

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