The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) made waves ever since it announced its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which would require businesses with a hundred or more employees to implement COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Since the ETS announcement, there has been legal pushback. Most recently, the 5th Circuit temporarily suspended OSHA’s ETS, saying that OSHA “claimed authority over employees’ private lives and vaccine status [which] is an egregious government overreach.”
Since that challenge, the DOJ has asked the 6th Circuit to reinstate the ETS. However, the issue could eventually end up being the Supreme Court’s decision.
What OSHA wants to know
Regardless of the legal hiccups, OSHA said it “remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies,” and believes the ETS will still go into effect in January 2022.
If the ETS does get reinstated, it would only be effective for six months before a permanent standard needs to be put into place.
In the meantime, OSHA is inviting employers to comment on all aspects of the ETS, including whether it should become permanent.
Here are some other specific areas OSHA is looking to get employers’ opinions on:
- Whether the standard should apply to companies with fewer than 100 employees as well
- What benefits and challenges employers that already implemented vaccine mandates have seen
- Whether masking requirements should be a part of the standard — and if vaccinated employees should have to wear them
- Whether the mandate should be stricter with no alternative compliance options, and
- What kind of COVID-19 testing policies employers currently have.
If the court lifts the temporary ban on OSHA’s ETS, employers will only have until early January 2022 to comply, so it’s best to prepare just in case.