Health care employers will be required to provide masks, physical barriers, social distancing and proper ventilation to ensure their employees are protected from Covid-19 under emergency workplace rules released by the Labor Department on Thursday.
The new mandatory safety rules will only apply to health care settings, which DOL estimates will cover 10.3 million workers, while all other businesses will have to follow optional safety guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for their workforces. That’s a much narrower rule than unions wanted and businesses feared.
“The science tells us that health care workers, particularly those who come into regular contact with the virus, are the most at risk at this point in the pandemic. So following an extensive review of the science data, OSHA determined that a health care-specific safety requirement will make the biggest impact,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said during a press call Thursday.