The N.C. Department of Labor (NCDOL) today announced the repeal of the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for Healthcare, effective March 4. The Healthcare ETS has been in effect in North Carolina since July 21, 2021 and was adopted verbatim from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as required by North Carolina’s state plan agreement with OSHA.
Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson released the following statement regarding the department’s decision:
“NCDOL has been monitoring North Carolina’s COVID-19 metrics and based on those numbers, we are comfortable allowing the ETS to sunset this week. According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, the daily number of people currently hospitalized has dropped dramatically since January, while the daily case count has fallen even more significantly during that same time.
North Carolina’s standard remained in place two months longer than federal OSHA’s rule, which the Biden administration allowed to expire on Dec. 21, 2021. Workplace safety is at the forefront of all my decisions, evidenced by the fact that North Carolina is the last state to repeal the rule. Withdrawing North Carolina’s rule now means that our state’s rules will be consistent with federal OSHA’s rules and the rules of nearly all other states. This alignment will offer a welcome measure of certainty, particularly to healthcare establishments that operate across state lines.
While the Healthcare ETS will be repealed, other permanent standards remain in place to protect workers in this industry. Specifically, employers must still comply with standards requiring personal protective equipment, respiratory protection, bloodborne pathogens and hazard communication. Employers must also comply with the general duty clause (N.C.G.S. 95-129), which requires employers to provide employees a place of employment free of recognized hazards.
I am grateful for the dedication and endurance of the thousands of healthcare workers across the state. For two years, these men and women have worked through a multitude of challenges, showing up each day to care for vulnerable North Carolinians. Since my first day on the job, I’ve been committed to working with and hearing from all sides on all issues. That promise continues today, as we work together to ensure that our state’s workplaces can thrive while remaining safe and healthy.”