Legislators, Professional Organizations Advocate for Safety Protections for Healthcare Workers

March 24, 2022 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, Former ONS Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

Shortly after emergency workplace safety standards were removed and guidance on isolation time (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/ana-advocates-to-prioritize-healthcare-workers-safety-after-cdcs-updated-guidance) following a positive COVID-19 test result was updated, healthcare workers and administrations urged legislators to issue protections for the profession. To ensure their voices were heard, House of Representatives legislators Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) and Alma Adams (D-NC) wrote a letter (https://edlabor.house.gov/imo/media/doc/Chairman%20Scott%20Letter%20to%20Biden%20Admin%20re%20ETS.pdf) to President Joe Biden and Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to advocate for a reversal (https://edlabor.house.gov/media/press-releases/committee-leaders-to-biden-administration-preserve-safety-protections-for-health-care-workers).

The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), issued in June 2021, requires healthcare facilities to take necessary steps to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19. In December 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor announced intentions to withdraw the standard while it worked on a permanent safety standard.

“The risks these workers face are so severe that we call on you to reconsider the decision to withdraw the June 2021 ETS and, following the reinstatement of the protections under the ETS, move with maximum urgency to a final standard with will secure the protections of the ETS for some of the nation’s most essential workers,” Scott and Adams wrote (https://edlabor.house.gov/imo/media/doc/Chairman%20Scott%20Letter%20to%20Biden%20Admin%20re%20ETS.pdf).

Following the issuance of the letter, the American Nurses Association (ANA) announced (https://www.nursingworld.org/news/news-releases/2021/ana-supports-efforts-to-restoreemergency-temporary-standard-protections/) its support in creating a permanent standard that would ensure nurses workplace protection while delivering care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Removing protections during one of the worst waves of this pandemic leaves nurses and other frontline personnel unnecessarily vulnerable when they have been and continue to be the backbone of the COVID-19 response since it began nearly two years ago,” ANA said (https://www.nursingworld.org/news/news-releases/2021/ana-supports-efforts-to-restoreemergency-temporary-standard-protections/).

Nurses are the most honest and ethical profession (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/gallup-poll-ranks-nurses-most-honest-and-ethical-profession-for-20th-consecutive-year), and now, more than ever, their dedication to public health is being recognized. Learn how you can use your voice to advocate for the profession and your patients as you uphold their commitment to ensuring quality care for all (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/nursings-new-role-public-health-information-advocate).

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