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U.S. Department of Labor Issues Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID

11/15/2021

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor has issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 places the onus on employers to maintain a safe and healthful workplace for employees. The previous Administration failed to issue an appropriate ETS relating to COVID

 

 The ETS applies to companies with more than 100 employees.  Employers will be required to allow paid time for workers to be vaccinated and to provide paid leave to recover from any untoward effects.

 

The ETS requires:-

  • Employers to ascertain the vaccination status of each employee with proof of vaccination and to maintain appropriate records. 
  • Employees are required to inform their employer if they test positive for COVID.
  • Affected employees must be removed from the workplace in compliance with quarantine restrictions.
  •  If a worker is not fully vaccinated they are to be tested weekly. 
  • Non-vaccinated employees must wear a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with other employees. 
  • Employers will be required to pay for testing and to bear the cost of any relevant laws or regulations to suppress COVID.

 

Jim Frederick, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA stated, “While vaccination remains the most effective defense against COVID this Emergency Temporary Standard will protect all workers including those who remain unvaccinated by requiring regular testing and the use of face coverings by unvaccinated workers to prevent the spread of the virus.”

 

It is projected that the ETS will cover two-thirds of the nation’s private sector workforce comprising 84 million individuals.

 

The ETS has elicited a negative reaction from segments of the agricultural sector including the United Fresh Produce Association the members of which employ large numbers of field workers vulnerable to infection.  Their concern is that the ETS will result in labor and supply chain disruption.

 

The severity of coronavirus is confirmed by the deaths of at least 750,000 since the first quarter of 2020. OSHA projects that the ETS will save lives and prevent hospitalization of workers over an indeterminate period during which the ETS is in effect.


 
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