Experts in Occupational Safety and Health Call for Stronger Standard to Protect Healthcare Workers from COVID-19

More than 100 experts have signed a letter strongly supporting Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s promulgation of a final standard on occupational exposure to COVID-19 in healthcare settings

Doctor writing on clipboard
April 26, 2022

WASHINGTON (April 26, 2022) — In response to  OSHA’s request for public comment related to the declaration of a final occupational exposure to COVID-19 in healthcare settings, more than a hundred leaders in public health filed comments supporting the establishment of a strong and permanent standard to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19, one that fully acknowledges and finally addresses aerosol transmission of the virus.

David Michaels, epidemiologist and professor at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and former administrator for OSHA said, “COVID-19 showed how vulnerable our healthcare workers are to airborne viruses and that strong and cohesive standard for protection is needed to protect these at-risk individuals.” Professor Michaels, the longest serving administrator for OSHA, helped spearhead this effort by co-drafting comments signed by experts across the country and testifying at the OSHA hearing. 

The letter was signed by 111 experts in occupational safety and health, medicine, epidemiology, industrial  hygiene, aerosol science, public health law and other relevant fields. 

The letter focuses on some key points for the agency to consider: 

  • The OSHA Standard Must Protect All Healthcare Workers from Exposure to Airborne  Particles 
  • The Standard Must Recognize Transmission by Asymptomatic Infected Individuals 
  • The Standard Must Protect All Workers in Healthcare Settings, Regardless of Vaccination  Status 
  • The Standard Must Include Paid Leave for Workers with COVID-19.
  • The Standard Must Help the US Prepare for the Possible Evolution of SARS-CoV-2 into a Second Novel Strain 

After hearing testimony and reviewing comments, OSHA will make a final decision.


- GW-