OSHA issues COVID-19 emergency temporary standard


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) on Monday, June 21, to protect health care workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19. The ETS applies, with some exceptions, to health care settings where people may share space with COVID-19 patients or interact with others who do. The ETS requires health care employers to develop and implement a COVID-19 plan that identifies and controls COVID-19 hazards in the workplace.

The ETS is effective as of June 21 and has a compliance date of July 5, 2021, with the exception of paragraphs (i), the use of cleanable or disposable solid barriers at fixed work locations outside of direct patient care areas; (k) ventilation requirements; and (n) training requirements, all of which have a compliance date of July 21.

In regards to the physical environment, the ETS requires:

  1. Employers in settings where direct patient care is provided to limit the number of entrances to the facility, as well as provide a monitoring system for each point of entry to ensure that persons do not enter the facility without going through screening.
  2. Each fixed work location outside of direct patient care areas where an employee is not separated from all other people by at least 6 feet of distance, the employer must install cleanable or disposable solid barriers, except where the employer can demonstrate it is not feasible.
  3. Employers to provide alcohol-based hand rub that is at least 60% alcohol or provide readily accessible hand-washing facilities for use by employees.
  4. Employers who own or control buildings or structures with existing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems to ensure that:
    • Each HVAC system is used in accordance with the HVAC manufacturer’s instructions and its design specifications.
    • The amount of outside air circulated through its HVAC system and the number of air changes per hour (ACHs) are maximized to the extent appropriate.
    • All air filters are rated Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 13 or higher, if compatible with the HVAC system (or, alternatively, rated at the highest compatible filtering efficiency);
    • All air filters are maintained and replaced as necessary.
    • All outside air intake ports are clean, maintained and cleared of any debris that may affect the function and performance of the HVAC system.
  5. Moreover, where an employer has an existing airborne infection isolation room (AIIR), the employer must maintain and operate it in accordance with its design and construction criteria.

For additional information, see the posting at the Federal Register or download the pdf.






Welcome to NSHE

The Nebraska Society of Healthcare Engineers (NSHE) is the Nebraska chapter of ASHE. Our membership represents hospitals and their environments of care staff in the State of Nebraska. We strongly support the efforts of ASHE and the State Hospital Associations in the region and have established an educational program that includes technical topics as well as business management skills. Our vision is to be the region's premier organization for professionals specializing in healthcare facilities management.

 NSHE has formed an alliance with vendors who provide services and products to healthcare providers in an effort to improve the professionalism of the people and firms supporting hospitals and patient care facilities. NSHE's meetings encourage hospital members and vendors to learn from each other in an effort to improve the safety, well-being, best business practices and quality of care for the populations our healthcare facilities serve.

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Advocacy mission statement

ASHE represents professionals who design, build, and operate hospitals and other health care facilities. The ASHE advocacy team works to monitor and unify the many overlapping codes and standards regulating the health care physical environment. Revamping codes—and reducing code conflicts—allows health care facilities to optimize their physical environment and focus more of their valuable resources on patient care. The team also advocates for ASHE members through professional development and credentialing opportunities, and provides up-to-date tools and resources to help keep health care facilities in compliance.


To the right, please find Quick Links to some of the Certifications ASHE offers.