OSHA Updates Stance on COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements
OSHA is reopening the rulemaking record to allow for new data and comments on the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) issued June 21, 2021, intended to protect workers in healthcare settings from occupational exposure to COVID-19.
The announcement indicates OSHA is at least willing to listen to those who will be responsible for implementing and complying with any permanent standard it may ultimately issue, says Nicholas S. Hulse, JD, attorney with Fisher Phillips in Charlotte, NC.
The announcement also provides a pretty clear outline of the direction OSHA will take with the permanent standard addressing exposure to COVID-19 in healthcare settings.
“It is not really surprising, given the CMS vaccine mandate, but the announcement does make clear that OSHA is not considering requiring mandatory vaccinations for healthcare employees,” Hulse says. “However, as with the ETS, it appears that there will be certain requirements that take into account whether employees are vaccinated. It appears that OSHA is considering requiring employees be ‘up to date’ on COVID-19 vaccinations, instead of ‘fully vaccinated,’ to be exempt from those requirements.”
Employers should note they will have more flexibility to implement the requirements of the permanent standard than they did with the ETS.
“This flexibility will be good news for employers, as every employer’s situation is different, and the flexibility will allow them to determine the most effective manner to comply,” Hulse says. “Employers should also be encouraged by OSHA’s consideration of using the CDC’s latest community transmission metrics to trigger compliance requirements.”
- Nicholas S. Hulse, JD, Fisher Phillips, Charlotte, NC. Phone: (704) 778-4183. Email: [email protected].
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