OSHA COVID-19 Mandate Effective Now: What Employers Need to Know

Nov 04, 2021
James Junkin

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS), mandating that employers develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. The ETS will be published in the Federal Register on November 5, 2021, and goes into effect on December 5, 2021. 

Employer vaccination policies must require employees to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work. Employers must comply with most provisions of the rule within 30 days, and have 60 days to comply with employee testing requirements.

With any emergency rule, there are often more questions than answers. Here, we break it down for you and your team: 

Q: Which employers are covered by the new ETS? 
A: Private employers with 100 or more employees across their organization, regardless of office location, as well as state and local government employers in states with OSHA-approved State Plans. 

Q: Do all employees have to follow the provisions of the new ETS? 
A: No. ETS does not apply to employees who do not report to a workplace where others are present; to employees working from home; and to employees that work exclusively outdoors.

Follow these 9 ETS requirements for compliance

The new emergency rule includes several employer requirements. Here are the most notable:

Develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, or enforce a policy allowing employees to elect either to get vaccinated or to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering in the workplace. Employers are not required to pay for testing or face masks, unless they have other agreements in place or are required to do so by state law.

Determine and maintain a roster of each employee’s vaccination status, including acceptable proof from vaccinated employees. 

Support employee vaccination by providing reasonable time, including up to 4 hours of paid time off to receive each primary vaccination dose, and reasonable sick leave time to recover from side effects of the vaccination. 

Ensure that employees not fully vaccinated are tested for COVID-19 weekly in the workplace, or within 7 days of returning to work.

Require employees to provide notice when they receive a positive COVID-19 test.  

Immediately remove employees who received a positive COVID-19 test from the workplace. 

Ensure employees who are not fully vaccinated wear a face covering when indoors and when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes. 

Provide each employee with information, in a language and at a literacy level they understand, with information about the ETS and your workplace policies and procedures around it. This must include vaccine efficacy, safety and the benefits of being vaccinated, per the CDC’s “Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines,” as well as protections against retaliation and discrimination. 

Report work-related COVID-19 fatalities to OSHA within 8 hours, and COVID-19 in-patient hospitalizations within 24 hours.

James Junkin, CSP, SMS, CSHO
Veriforce Master Trainer
President, Mariner-Gulf Consulting & Services

Contact your Veriforce risk management team for help with developing, implementing, and enforcing your COVID-19 vaccination policy.