On January 26, 2022, OSHA officially withdrew its COVID-19 (coronavirus) emergency temporary standard (ETS) for employers with 100 or more employees. As we previously reported, the Supreme Court had stayed enforcement of the ETS to allow lawsuits challenging it to proceed to a full hearing with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The ETS isn’t dead yet, though. OSHA says it will treat the ETS as a proposed rule (with minor revisions) under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, subject to the usual notice-and-comment rulemaking process. The proposal could become a final, enforceable rule once the rulemaking process is concluded. We don’t yet have specific information or a timeline regarding the rulemaking process. In the meantime, OSHA says that it continues to “strongly encourage” the vaccination of workers against COVID-19.
Tips: According to an OSHA press release issued right after the Supreme Court’s ruling, the agency will rely on OSHA’s “general duty” clause to issue citations if employers fail to implement appropriate protocols to protect employees from the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Continue to follow your state and local requirements and consider practical options to protect workers from unnecessary exposure. Vigilant will monitor developments with respect to OSHA’s proposed rule and keep members informed. If you have any questions, contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.