The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. The ETS establishes binding requirements to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers (100 or more employees) from the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.
Many employers are struggling to find ways to comply with the ETS. SafetyHQ will make this easier for contractors through the addition of several new features to its safety management platform. The features that are detailed below are available immediately as a paid add-on for existing SafetyHQ clients. Companies that don’t currently use SafetyHQ can purchase the ETS-related features via a special promotional plan starting January 3rd, 2022.
What Do Employers Need to Do?
Under the ETS, applicable employers are required to adhere to several requirements. The most notable of these are as follows:
- Develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with an exception for employers that instead establish, implement, and enforce a policy allowing employees to elect either to get vaccinated or to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at the workplace.
- Determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination from vaccinated employees, maintain records of each employee’s vaccination status, and maintain a roster of each employee’s vaccination status.
- Ensure that each employee who is not fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days before returning to work (if away from the workplace for a week or longer).
- Provide each employee with information, in a language and at a literacy level the employee understands, about the requirements of the ETS and workplace policies and procedures established to implement the ETS.
- Make certain records available for examination and copying to an employee (and to anyone having written authorized consent of that employee) or an employee representative.
When Does the OSHA ETS Take Effect?
- Employers must comply with most provisions by January 10, 2022.
- Employers must comply with the testing requirement by February 9, 2022.
There are pending legal challenges to the ETS via the United States Supreme Court but employers are strongly encouraged to begin complying immediately as a favourable ruling is not assured. Employers face steep fines for non-compliance and may also have issues due to changing workplace conditions on existing jobs. Employers may also find winning new bids becomes difficult if they are not in compliance with the ETS.
How Will SafetyHQ Help?
In order to help employers more easily comply with the OSHA ETS, SafetyHQ has developed several new features including:
- New toolbox talks & training lessons to help supervisors and regular field workers understand the ETS and to help employers meet the educational aspects of the standard.
- A form to collect workers’ vaccination status. The status is stored on the worker’s profile. Administrators can view, update & share the worker vaccination roster easily.
- A form used to document weekly test results for unvaccinated workers. Workers can upload their own results or they can be uploaded by a SafetyHQ administrator.
- Weekly text and email reminders for unvaccinated workers that they must submit their test results or provide them to a company representative.
Additionally, SafetyHQ will provide its clients with templates for a COVID-19 Vaccination & Testing policy as well as copies of all relevant OSHA ETS materials within the app so they can be reviewed anytime, anywhere, on any device.
These new features come as a welcome relief to contractors frustrated by the burden of performing the tasks required under the ETS. They will help them avoid unnecessary citations with minimal disruption to their business.
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