Nursing unions sue Biden for overturning worker protection from COVID-19

Nursing unions are asking courts to force the Biden administration to issue permanent standards for the prevention of COVID-19 in the workplace after it announced plans to remove part of the interim standard for healthcare workers.

The OSHA “failed” to protect nurses and other workers as required by law, the NNU, the New York State Nursing Association, the Pennsylvania Nursing and Allied Professional Association and other unions. claimed in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

While OSHA issued interim standards for healthcare employers in June, the agency announced plans to withdraw most of them last week because it could not complete the final rule within six months, as required by law. OSHA predicts that its proposed infectious disease standard will be released in April, which means the final rule will not be ready until 30 days after that.

The medical ETS was applied in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and required employers to comply with regulations regarding personal protective equipment, physical distancing, paid vaccination leave and other requirements.

“When OSHA determines that an emergency exists (as it did here) and issues an emergency standard, that standard should remain in effect until a final rule is issued, which must be met within six months of the standard’s publication. for emergencies, “the message says. unions argued in the lawsuit. “OSHA has no authority to create an indefinite temporary breach in the regulatory framework to protect healthcare workers during a pandemic.”

The NNU is asking the court to order OSHA to issue a permanent COVID-19 workplace exposure standard in healthcare facilities, and to maintain and enforce the interim standard for emergencies until the permanent rule takes effect.

OSHA claims that healthcare workers are still protected by other existing standards, but also urges employers to voluntarily follow the expired interim standard until a final rule is ready.

“Continuing ETS compliance in health care is the easiest way for employers in health care facilities to protect the health of their employees and ensure compliance with their OSH obligations,” the agency said in a statement. wrote on their website last week.

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