OSHA released their new Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) in the Federal Register this past Friday, November 5th. To read it for yourself, here is a link:
If you want to read the ETS as a regulation, it can be found at 29 CFR 1910.501, or through this link:
This safety tip will review some of the current regulatory requirements surrounding vaccinations.
As stated in the Executive Summary in the Federal Register, the purpose is “to protected unvaccinated employees of large employers (100 or more employees) from the risk of contracting COVID-19 by strongly encouraging vaccination.” The deadline for vaccinations in the workplace is January 4, 2022.
An alternative to vaccinations is offered. Those employees who cite medical issues or strong religious beliefs that prevent them from being vaccinated must wear face coverings and show proof of negative COVID-19 tests weekly. The exception to this requirement is for employees who work from home, are exclusively outdoor workers, or are the only person in their workplace.
The states and territories that have their own OSHA regulations, like California or Washington, must comply with this ETS within 180 days.
California currently has a COVID-19 Prevention Program. Like the federal regulation, Cal/OSHA’s regulation encourages vaccinations, and provides guidance to employers on the use of face coverings, and COVID-19 testing. The Cal/OSHA regulation also details the actions employers must take when an employee contracts COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone with the virus for more than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period (a “close contact”). This includes sanitation of the workplace, notification to any potentially exposed person, when to notify local public health agencies and when to notify Cal/OSHA, and when an employee who had COVID-19 or a close contact can return to work.
Cal/OSHA also has a clause in their regulation that an employee who previously had COVID-19 and has remained symptom free for 90 days may elect to not be vaccinated. The Cal/OSHA regulation, as an ETS, is scheduled to be updated in January of 2022. This clause is under scrutiny and may be removed from the regulation at that time. The reasoning for this possible deletion is recent guidance from the CDC that people who had COVID-19 and have recovered may still be at risk for contracting the disease again or they could carry the disease to others. The antibodies that would be present in these people may not be as effective as the antibodies that are produced in fully vaccinated people.