How to Comply with OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination Emergency Temporary Standard
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released an emergency temporary standard (ETS) obligating private employers with 100 or more employees to require COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing and masking for their unvaccinated employees. The ETS requires covered employers to ensure all unvaccinated employees working in person begin wearing masks by Dec. 6, 2021, and provide a negative COVID-19 test on a weekly basis beginning Jan. 4, 2022.
Legal challenges to the ETS have been and will be made, but until these challenges are resolved, employers must prepare for compliance.
All requirements of the ETS, other than testing for unvaccinated employees, are effective 30 days after publication of the ETS in the Federal Register (i.e., Dec. 6, 2021).
According to OSHA’s ETS fact sheet, employers are required by the standard to do the following:
- Implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with or without an exception allowing employees to instead undergo weekly COVID-19 testing (beginning Jan. 4, 2022) and wear a face covering at the workplace (beginning Dec. 6, 2021).
- Create a list showing the vaccination status of each employee, obtain proof of vaccination and maintain these records.
- Provide employees with up to four hours of paid time off to receive each primary vaccination dose and paid sick leave to recover from any side effects experienced following each primary vaccination dose. Booster shots are not covered in this requirement.
- Ensure that each employee who is not fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if in the workplace at least once a week) or within seven days before returning to work (if away from the workplace for a week or longer).
- Require employees to promptly provide notice when they receive a positive COVID-19 test or are diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Immediately remove from the workplace any employee, regardless of vaccination status, who receives a positive COVID-19 test or is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a licensed health care provider, and keep the employee out of the workplace until the return-to-work criteria are met.
- Ensure that each employee who is not fully vaccinated wears a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes, except in certain limited circumstances.
- Provide each employee with information they can understand about the requirements of the ETS and the workplace policies and procedures established to implement the ETS; vaccine efficacy, safety and the benefits of being vaccinated by providing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) document Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines; protections against retaliation and discrimination; and laws that provide for criminal penalties for knowingly supplying false statements or documentation.
- Report work-related COVID-19 fatalities to OSHA within eight hours of the employer learning about them, and work-related COVID-19 in-patient hospitalizations within 24 hours of learning about them.
- Make records available to an employee or an employee representative for examination and copying.