COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard Explored

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OSHA has rolled out an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to outline for companies with 100+ employees what their Coronavirus policies should, and must, include. When certain conditions come into play, OSHA can release an ETS that is effective immediately. Within an ETS, OSHA must outline their reasons for determining a toxic and/or physically harmful or new hazard has entered the workforce which requires an emergency response. An ETS must be published within the Federal Register where it also becomes a proposed permanent standard. A ruling typically comes within six months of the publication and the basis for the ETS can be challenged within the U.S. Court of Appeals.

There has been a lot of commotion over the validity of the ETS, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss. There is a lot jam packed into this standard and a lot of confusion has been arising. That’s why you have us here at East Shore Safety to weed out the information and deliver it in an easier to understand format.

  • There is not “roll out” or “get into compliance by” date. The ETS must be addressed by businesses with 100+ employees immediately who fall under OSHA’s jurisdiction (manufacturing, retail, delivery services, warehouses, meat packing, agriculture, construction, logging, maritime, and healthcare).
    • Within 30 days: All requirements must be in effect except for testing for employees who are not fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated is defined as 2 weeks after the final vaccine dose is received.
    • Within 60 days: Testing policies and testing available for employees still not fully vaccinated.
  • Don’t think you’re off the hook if your employee count is under 100! OSHA feels that it would create too much undue stress on these smaller companies to order them to comply immediately. If you’re a company under 100, you should also start working on updating your policies to comply with the standard (call us! We can help!)
  • State/Local Laws? The point of the ETS was to preemptively prevent “local requirements that ban or limit an employer from requiring vaccination, face covering, or testing.”
  • Who’s exempt? Any employee who is fully remote – does not enter a workplace with coworkers AND/OR clients/customers/patients – or their work is exclusively outdoors is exempt.
  • Policies on Vaccination should be developed, implemented, and enforced. The COVID-19 vaccination policy should include who can be exempted from the policy. Should an employee elect to not be vaccinated, employers should allow the option for weekly COVID-19 testing and a face covering should be required at the workplace. If the employee is electing to not get vaccinated, the employer is not required to pay for the cost of the testing unless a local or state law requires it.
  • Paid sick time for vaccinations was also outlined in the ETS. A reasonable amount of paid time – up to 4 hours – should be allotted for employees to get each of the vaccination doses. And for the after-effects? Employees are covered there too. A reasonable amount of paid sick leave should be allowed to recover from the side effects.
  • Positive for COVID-19? Any employee with a positive COVID-19 test or is diagnosed with COVID-19 is required to promptly give notice to their employer. This should be outlined in the company’s COVID-19 written policy. The employee must be immediately removed from the workplace/workforce until they meet the criteria to return to work – all which should be included in the policy.
  • Employees who are not fully vaccinated must wear a face covering when indoors or in the vehicle with someone else for a work-related purpose. There are very limited circumstances with an exemption for this.
  • Got an employee who is fully vaccinated and still wants to wear a face covering? You must allow them to under the ETS unless there is a higher risk of injury or death due to a workplace hazard.


And finally, don’t forget that an ETS also requires the delivery of this information, freedom from retaliation, standard injury/fatality reporting parameters, and availability of records just as they do any other standard.

Please be sure to reach out to our safety professionals here at East Shore Safety if you have any questions surrounding this ETS. Our expert safety professionals can help create your company’s policy or review your draft policy to ensure compliancy. We’re in this with you!

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