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OSHA COVID-19 ETS Mandate: Nov 2021


The OSH Act is intended to “assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions”.


Under this standard, The 100-employee threshold is based on a companywide headcount, rather than the number of employees at a particular worksite. Covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.


**The standard does not apply to workplaces that are covered by the federal contractor requirement or a new vaccination directive from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for health care workers at facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Healthcare ETS issued in June 2021 is still in effect. Note, however, that if the Healthcare ETS is no longer in effect at any point while this ETS is in effect, some employees working in settings covered under section 1910.502 may become covered by this ETS.**



Understanding COVID-19 ETS

The emergency temporary standard covers employers with 100 or more employees, firm or company-wide, and provides options for compliance.


The ETS requires employers to do the following:

  • Determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination status from vaccinated employees and maintain records and a roster of each employee's vaccination status.

  • Require employees to provide prompt notice when they test positive for COVID-19 or receive a COVID-19 diagnosis. Employers must then remove the employee from the workplace, regardless of vaccination status; employers must not allow them to return to work until they meet required criteria.

  • Ensure each worker who is not fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if the worker is in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days before returning to work (if the worker is away from the workplace for a week or longer).

  • Ensure that, in most circumstances, each employee who has not been fully vaccinated wears a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Employers must comply with most requirements within 30 days of publication and with testing requirements within 60 days of publication.

The emergency temporary standard does not require employers to pay for testing. Employers may be required to pay for testing to comply with other laws, regulations, collective bargaining agreements, or other collectively negotiated agreements. Employers are also not required to pay for face coverings.

**For more answers to specific questions regarding this ETS, OSHA has created a great FAQ resource page to be viewed HERE.**


Protecting Workers from COVID19 under HEALTHCARE ETS

The main section of the ETS (1910.502 – Healthcare) requires employers to develop and implement effective COVID-19 plans. Controlling COVID-19 requires employers to use multiple overlapping controls in a layered approach to better protect workers. The key requirements of the ETS are:

  • COVID-19 plan: Develop and implement a COVID-19 plan (in writing if more than 10 employees) that includes a designated safety coordinator with authority to ensure compliance, a workplace-specific hazard assessment, involvement of non-managerial employees in hazard assessment and plan development/implementation, and policies and procedures to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to employees.

  • Patient screening and management: Limit and monitor points of entry to settings where direct patient care is provided; screen and triage patients, clients, and other visitors and non-employees; implement patient management strategies.

  • Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions: Develop and implement policies and procedures to adhere to Standard and Transmission-Based precautions based on CDC guidelines.

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): Provide and ensure each employee wears a facemask when indoors and when occupying a vehicle with other people for work purposes; provide and ensure employees use respirators and other PPE for exposure to people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and for aerosol-generating procedures on a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

  • Aerosol-generating procedures on a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19: Limit employees present to only those essential; perform procedures in an airborne infection isolation room, if available; and clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment after the procedure is completed.

  • Physical distancing: Keep people at least 6 feet apart when indoors.

  • Physical barriers: Install cleanable or disposable solid barriers at each fixed work location in non-patient care areas where employees are not separated from other people by at least 6 feet.

  • Cleaning and disinfection: Follow standard practices for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and equipment in accordance with CDC guidelines in patient care areas, resident rooms, and for medical devices and equipment; in all other areas, clean high-touch surfaces and equipment at least once a day and provide alcohol-based hand rub that is at least 60% alcohol or provide readily accessible hand washing facilities.

  • Ventilation: Ensure that employer-owned or controlled existing HVAC systems are used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and design specifications for the systems and that air filters are rated Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 13 or higher if the system allows it.

  • Health screening and medical management: (1) Screen employees before each workday and shift; (2) Require each employee to promptly notify the employer when the employee is COVID-19 positive, suspected of having COVID-19, or experiencing certain symptoms; (3) Notify certain employees within 24 hours when a person who has been in the workplace is COVID-19 positive; (4) Follow requirements for removing employees from the workplace; (5) Employers with more than 10 employees, provide medical removal protection benefits in accordance with the standard to workers who must isolate or quarantine.

  • Vaccination: Provide reasonable time and paid leave for vaccinations and vaccine side effects.

  • Training: Ensure all employees receive training so they comprehend COVID-19 transmission, tasks and situations in the workplace that could result in infection, and relevant policies and procedures.

  • Anti-Retaliation: Inform employees of their rights to the protections required by the standard and do not discharge or in any manner discriminate against employees for exercising their rights under the ETS or for engaging in actions required by the standard.

  • Requirements must be implemented at no cost to employees.

  • Recordkeeping: Establish a COVID-19 log (if more than 10 employees) of all employee instances of COVID-19 without regard to occupational exposure and follow requirements for making records available to employees/representatives. *Please read and grab the log here: Covid-19 OSHA Log* *NOTE: Your obligation to complete this new, special COVID-19 log is in addition to your obligation to log work-related cases on your normal OSHA 300 log. See the blue sidebar on this OSHA page to see the three criteria for recording a COVID-19 case on your OSHA 300 log.*

  • Promptly report work-related COVID-19 fatalities (within 8 hours) and in-patient hospitalizations (within 24 hours) to OSHA. Please read more information regarding this here: Reporting

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