OSHA Developing Private Sector Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19 Vaccines and Testing
On Sept. 9, 2021, President Biden announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing an emergency temporary standard (ETS). The new ETS will require private-sector employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19 every week before coming to work.
OSHA’s ETS for employers with 100 or more employees will be required to:
- Ensure their employees are fully vaccinated; or
- Require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce negative test results on a weekly basis before coming to work.
This announcement follows the vaccination, masking, and social distancing requirements issued by the president in July for the public sector – federal employees and on-site contractors.
There currently is no time frame as to when the new ETS will be released. The government estimates that the ETS will impact over 80 million private-sector workers.
Current OSHA COVID-19 Vaccines and Testing ETS
OSHA currently has a COVID-19 ETS for the health care and health care support workers. This ETS covers hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities; emergency responders; home health care workers; and employees in ambulatory care settings where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated.
OSHA has also issued guidance to help employers and workers not covered by the health care ETS. This guidance is to help employers protect workers who are unvaccinated, otherwise at-risk, or fully vaccinated but in areas of substantial or high community transmission.
Next Steps for Larger Employers
Employers should continue to protect at-risk, unvaccinated, and fully vaccinated workers. Employers should also monitor OSHA communication channels to become familiar with the expected private sector ETS once it is published. GTM will continue to monitor this and provide updates.
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