Medical Office OSHA & ETS Updates

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for healthcare settings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. OSHA's reasoning for the ETS is that, although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relaxed mandates on social distancing and mask requirements, employees and others in a healthcare setting remain in danger of exposure to COVID-19. In effect, workers in healthcare settings, where people with COVID-19 are reasonably expected, need additional safeguards to address the hazard of exposure. The ETS requires continued social distancing, mask requirements and other safety measures. We are reaching out to you today as some members have inquired about the impact to medical office building operations.

The requirement for compliance falls on the healthcare employer in the healthcare setting (medical facility). Specifically, the ETS states, "Employers must comply with most provisions within 14 days, and with the remaining provisions within 30 days of publication in the federal register." Since landlords are not the employers of the workers in the facilities, they are not responsible for compliance. Rather, the tenants or healthcare service providers are responsible for compliance within their leased space.

Further language in the ETS exempts common areas or areas within the building that are not utilized for health care. Specifically, "where a healthcare setting is embedded within a non-healthcare setting (e.g., medical clinic in a manufacturing facility, walk-in clinic in a retail setting), the ETS applies only to the embedded healthcare setting and not to the remainder of the physical location."

Therefore, there is no need to comply in the other areas of the building that are not within the healthcare facility. It should be noted that if the entire building is a healthcare facility, then it may be necessary to comply. However, it would depend on the overall use since the regulation provides exemptions. Pharmacies, for example, are exempt. Thus, if you have a pharmacy in the common area, then the exemption applies even if the balance of the building is used as a medical facility.

A summary of the ETS can be found here and the entire regulation (29 CFR 1910.502) can be reviewed at I hope this information is helpful, and if you have any questions, please free to reach out to the BOMA International advocacy team.


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