OSHA’s updated ETS aims to reduce COVID-19 in the workplace through vaccine mandate

November 4, 2021

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Written By
Anne M. Acosta

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued the much-anticipated, updated Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). And the new ETS sends a loud and clear message to employers that they’re serious about reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace through a new vaccine mandate. With over 745,000 COVID-19 deaths and growing in the United States alone, OSHA is strengthening vaccination or testing requirements for private employers with 100 or more employees.

The ETS deadline for full vaccination by January 4, 2022 is right around the corner, and employers will need to scramble to get a system of record in place immediately to avoid mismanagement of records, reduced productivity and potential fines. OSHA isn’t asking employers to send employee information to the government, but it is asking employers to “gather this information and have it available” in case the employer is identified as potentially in violation of the new standard.

 

What’s in the vaccine mandate?

 

In short, private employers with 100 or more employees will be required to be fully vaccinated, and their employers will need to prove that each employee has shared proof of their vaccination status or that they’re submitting weekly COVID-19 testing results and masking indoors and in cars with others at work. Healthcare workers will not have the weekly testing option given their unique risk factors associated with their work.

In OSHA’s words, “The ETS requires employers to determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination, maintain records of each employee’s vaccination status, and maintain a roster of each employee’s vaccination status.”

OSHA’s ETS states that employers must comply by most provisions by 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register and with the testing requirements by 60 days, which would be January 4, 2022, so these changes are happening very fast.

Likely due to staffing issues, OSHA will rely on employee complaints to investigate violations to keep tabs on how employers are doing. According to a recent employee insights survey study, 55% of employees state that they will consider reporting a coworker for violating a vaccine mandate. OSHA will fine an employer $13,653 for each violation and $136,532 if employers are found to be willfully non-compliant.

Also noteworthy is that employees, not employers, will have to take care of weekly testing requirements, including paying for their own testing. While bargaining groups and unions will likely contest this, as of right now, employees are on the hook for this.

The over 20 States and territories that adopt their own OSHA standards will have 30 days to implement their respective rules.

Attorneys general of 24 states previously said they will challenge the mandate, claiming it violates the state Constitutional rights, but timing is tight for them with the January 4, 2022 deadline in mind.

 

How to get ready for the vaccine mandate

 

Kogniz has been helping organizations get ready to manage vaccination status records and weekly testing results throughout the pandemic, and we’re able to take the burden off of private employers with a simple, compliant and privacy-ready solution for managing employee vaccination status and weekly testing results.

Kogniz AssureAI is a predictive safety platform that enables companies to quickly identify hazardous conditions to mitigate risk, automate incident response and improve outcomes, saving time, money and lives.

Kogniz AssureAI’s vaccination & testing solution offers: customizable self-attestation surveys, vaccination status records & weekly testing management, two-way communications to remind employees to upload vaccination or weekly testing results proof with real-time visualizations and powerful reporting to keep you aware of progress with your workforce’s mandate compliance, understand where attention is needed and with an easy way to prove that you’ve been complying with the new ETS to OSHA or in civil suits.

Watch our 30-minute webinar on how to get started in as little as one hour or schedule a call to see how you can comply with the new ETS right away.

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