June 21, 2021

New OSHA Workplace Standards Are Effective July 5

A new Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) specific to COVID-19 in the workplace was published today in the Federal Register. The ETS was issued on June 10 by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Most of the provisions require employers to be in compliance within 14 days (July 5), while all other provisions require compliance within 30 days of publication (July 21).

The ETS will only apply to health care settings where workers face the highest COVID-19 hazards, which specifically includes assisted living facilities. However, the ETS exempts fully vaccinated workers from masking, distancing, and barrier requirements when in well-defined areas where there is no reasonable expectation that any person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 will be present. OSHA prepared a summary and fact sheet of the guidance.

OSHA has six months to make the ETS a permanent standard, and the agency is accepting written comments, including comments on any aspect of this ETS and whether this ETS should become a final rule, through July 21.

Click HERE to see if your workplace is covered by the COVID-19 Healthcare ETS.

In addition to the OSHA guidance, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued updated guidance on May 28 to allow employers to require vaccines and offer incentives that would comply with federal anti-discrimination law. It’s important to note that while these terms apply federally, some states have adopted prohibitions against private employers from mandating the COVID vaccine as a condition of employment (with some states providing an exemption for long-term care).

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