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OSHA to Issue Additional COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

Sep 10, 2021

As part of an extensive, six-pronged strategy announced Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, the Biden Administration has directed OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) that will require employers with more than 100 employees to require those individuals who come into a workplace or work site to be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

While the rate of vaccinations has increased around the U.S., in announcing the plan, the White House noted that nearly 80 million Americans eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet gotten their first shot. It is expected that the plan will require employers to provide paid time off for vaccination and any recovery time that may be required, similar to the requirements included in the current ETS for healthcare.

In a briefing on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, OSHA officials said they are working expeditiously to issue the standard in the coming weeks but did not provide a specific timeline. They said they are working to align the new ETS with the healthcare ETS and that it will not apply to fully remote workers. Key details, such as how vaccination will be verified, are being finalized as the agency develops the standard. It is expected that the standard will not address how employers implement or enforce their specific vaccination policies.

“President Biden’s plan to continue to combat COVID-19 this fall is comprehensive, science-based and relies on the power of the federal government working hand-in-hand with states, local communities, the private sector and all Americans to put this pandemic behind us,” the White House said.

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Don Buckman

My opinion only. Over the last 19 months, OSHA’s involvement and direction regarding COVID 19 has been IMO haphazard and directionless, leading to credibility and efficacy issues regarding anything COVID 19. This is not to say this latest EO won’t materialize, but aside from legal challenges, political pressure, I do not see how OSHA will be able to enforce directly. The Federal government is already exempted itself from the mandates in several agencies. Go figure. In addition:

1) Early 2020 positive COVID 19 cases with employees being Recordable with OSHA removing the requirement May 2020.  2)Early 2020 Medical clearance and pulmonary functioning testing for masks (aka respirators) before being a CDC recommendation/requirement only to see language change to “cloth face coverings” and OSHA pulling back on this requirement

3) Early 2021 White House Executive order for OSHA to establish an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) by March 15, 2021 and not meeting that target till June 2021, only to apply the ETS to the Health Care Industry and provide “guidance” to General Industry and others.   

4) Early 2021 OSHA’s mandating the recording of vaccine adverse effects (if rising to medical treatment) if made mandatory by an employer, only to be revoked quietly by OSHA in May 2021.

Tracy Lawson
As safety professionals, we should be very concerned about the weaponizing of OSHA and the impact on the trust of our profession. This is a dynamic and every changing situation and COVID data is spun, sckewed and does not accurately address issues such as the fact you are listed as unvaccinated until 14 days after your second shot. THe unvaccinated, which also includes those who have natural immunity, are being forced, manipulated and coerced to put a vaccine into their bodies that is not fully tested. Approved does not mean safe. This is now being recommended for children? Please do your research and actually read the COMINARTY document which says it was not tested on those who had recovered from COVID. The CDC has changed their position so many times, I am in disbelief the amount of people who only repeat sound bites and do not read ALL the studies out there. Read all of the CDC recommendations and you will find statements that limit the conclusion. Look at Dr. Pierponts' recent study for some eye-opening Delta variant data based on CDC, Oxford and UK studies. Lets ensure TRUE safety is being achieved and stop using regulators to force people into bad medicine.
Jason Domangue

Well said Tracy Lawson.  I agree.  We should not be governed by executive orders that paint with a broad brush.  Many employees told me that due to the vaccine mandate they will be leaving our company of over 200 employees for employers that have less than 100 employees so that they can make their own decisions regarding their personal healthcare.  Unfortunately they are some of our safest and more health conscious employees and it burdens me to lose them.  I hope this mandate is somehow nullified. We should stay strong for our employees and their health no matter what side of the vaccine debate they are on.


Jeffrey Bowers
As if getting reliable data reporting from employers was not hard enough, now we get further ETS that pinches the many businesses trying to keep the American Gross Domestic National Product rates from killing the world supply chains further. Regardless of personal and political stance on the guidance and ETS provisioning, our duty as Safety Pro's is to seek out and prevent illness/injury and promote workplace/occupational safety and health through risk assessments, corrective actions, education, and good ole fashioned recordkeeping. This may just prove to be a temporary inconvenience vs a long-term set of regulating effects. Time will be the true test, but we must endure with confidence that our programs are performing. Some of us have a lane we need to remain focused on. Deviation of focus only leads to more energy wasted on things that we cannot change (in most circumstances). Frankly, I am exhausted just from the nightly news and have enough to worry about in my facilities world let alone the unknown future of a regulation that is still being penned by the legal scribes at OSHA. #safetyleadership #staypositive #ASSP
Bethany Graves
This new standard will set OSHA back to 1971.  It is not OSHA's responsibility, nor the employer's, nor the government's responsibility to direct private healthcare.  It is between a human being and their physician.  Whoever wanted to the vaccine has gotten it by now.  I am aware of many people who are looking for other jobs.  These vaccines are not proven or safe as is evident from the underreported VAERS system and doctor's all over the world.  The government (and I don't mean OSHA) needs to concentrate on treatment of illness instead of forcing people to take an unproven jab.  I am disgusted with OSHA, ASSP, CDC, NIOSH, and any other alphabet at this point.  Safety and health professionals, 2 years ago had I asked the CDC if I can mandate a cloth MASK for ANYTHING, do you really think they would say it is effective?  They would have said unequivocally 'No'.  What happens if an employee dies due to the COVID 19 jab, mandated by the employer?  That's a job related fatality, plain and clear.  What is OSHA going to do, bypass their own laws?   By the way, NO animals survived the initial testing of any of these vaccines.  Isn't that a concern for anyone?  #disgustedwiththesafetyfield
Randy Milliron

I agree with everyone who has commented already as being against this over-reaching ETS. I do not believe this current administration needs to get involved in our personal health care. 

With all the negative feelings about the current state of our Government (the border crisis, the economy, paying people to stay home instead of being an active part of the workforce, and the catastrophe in Afghanistan), the American people no longer trust what is being told to them by either the media, CDC, the everchanging Dr. Fauci, or the White House.  

This ETS goes against what OSHA was originally created for: protecting the employee from the employer. Whether or not a person wants to get vaccinated should be between them and their medical professional and NOT their employer and definitely NOT the Government. 

There is still so much we do not know about these vaccinations. The vaccination only protects a person that if they do contract the COVID virus then there’s a 90% chance that it will not be as severe as if they were unvaccinated. Even those who are vaccinated can still contract the disease and, worse yet, unknowingly infect other people.  If the vaccination eliminated the person from ever contracting COVID, then I believe more people would have already gotten vaccinated  But that just is not the case.  In all of my years, I've never seen such a promotional push to get people vaccinated for a virus that has a recovery rate of 97-99.75%.  If the recovery rate is so high and the fatality rate so low, why are they continuing to push this agenda?  There are ads to get vaccinated are all over the national media, local media, social media, and yes, even Pandora ads.  We have not had ad campaigns of this level for either the SARS-CoV, Rotavirus, Hantavirus, or seasonal influenza (which kills more than 500,000 worldwide each year).  Additionally, if the vaccination was so foolproof, then we would not see the need to get up to three booster shots.

I believe many States are already preparing to fight this ETS as they feel it is unconstitutional and a clear violation of our personal rights. I think this is yet another example of this administration’s plan to push its political rhetoric on the American people and using “safety” as the method to make it happen. OSHA does not need to be converted into the watchdog over the American people’s health care. 

Kimberly Borski

As a Safety Professional I could not agree more with all the above statements.  This will set OSHA back like you said and but employers in a spot that they should not be in.  It is not an employers responsibility nor should it be to force healthcare such as this.  There has been so many more virus and diseases that have spread throughout the country and world much worse then this and yet such a big deal is being made about this one virus. 

My hopes are that OSHA stops this nonsense or they will lose a lot more workers.


John Frost

OSHA has no business releasing rules on issues such as this. This is a breach of the American trust and mission of this organization. There has never been a time when OSHA has been used as a political tool such as this. The damage this will due to our profession and the American business is long term. I have hope that they will be able to stop this insanity and get back to focusing on the true priority of preventing injuries and deaths in the workplace. We do not mandate any other preventative medical care, why should this be any different. 

Heart disease, still kills more people in the US than Covid-19. We literally have 10 worse disease that we should be more worried about. But are they ready to tell companies to not hire people that are overweight or out of shape?  Who will do the work? 150,000 people die in the US each day, a large number of those from disease that are related to poor diets and lack of proper exercise.

The arguments over Covid-19 are unique to say the least. Business require people to succeed, people need safe and healthy environments to thrive. Without each other, both will fail. Information is being manipulated and dispersed to the world population dividing people in every aspect of their lives. If the government wants to force vaccines on people, great, do not do it at the expense of the business. With a large portion of the population not working, this would be very ineffective anyway. 

Kyle Eustis

The current administration is trying to utlize OSHA(founded to protect employees from employers) as their muscle to forcefully inoculate workers. This is not the purpose of OSHA and they cannot go through with this ETS. The current admin is doing everything in their power to chip away at personal liberty and bodily autonomy in the name of “safety”. I am sorry but I wholeheartedly disagree with this potential ETS. I think it will be hard to track and enforce. Even if they get that figured out... what will they do when people leave their jobs. We already have worker shortages in unskilled labor fields... if skilled laborers start to leave their 100+ employee companies for smaller companies or to do their own thing(depending on their trade and skill level). Employers will have a tough time manning job sites, workshops or other places of work. This could be catastrophic for the economy and workforce.


The views expressed here are my own and not that of my employer.

Don Buckman

Very well said above.

To add, what is not being discussed in the mainstream, beyond the severe lack of focus on industrial risks, are the impacts this ETS will have on the economy. In manufacturing, we are looking at 30-40% that will not get vaccinated, add in there the inflexibility of those government contractors and sub-contractors with no testing option. Perhaps the mandate will make 5-10% of the unvaccinated blink and seek out the vaccine, but the remaining percentage (in the thousands here) will lead to us not being able manufacture product effectively, efficiently, and of course SAFELY. This isn't 1 company, this is EVERY COMPANY (100+ or gov't contractor); millions of workers. The percentage of workers who will NOT take the vaccine will cascade with shortages in over the road trucking, distribution centers, shipping docks, food and fuel delivery, etc. Employer centric organizations that represent the worker are saying companies can plan for the staffing shortages.?? This is simply naive. Once a person is is terminated, they are fruit from the poison tree, not hirable, and at this point ineligible for unemployment. There isn't a workforce that is ready OR willing to off set the millions facing termination.  

In addition, for those that believe they are protected because they're vaccinated, it only takes the government press release to redefine "fully vaccinated." So those that were on the fence after their first vaccine may (will) have to continue the vaccination. It's coming, with them already talking about boosters and combining the MRNA COVID vaccine with the Influenza vaccine. What will it matter for those already vaccinated? Simple economics, manufacturing will suffer job losses, leading to business losses, which will lead to major bankruptcies and/or major layoffs impacting the vaccinated too.

With the dollar undervalued and inflation surging, adding 20-30 million to unemployment will be the death knell to the economy. 

The views expressed here are my own and not that of my employer.



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