OSHA Released COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard. What are the critical implications for the organizations?

Two months of anticipation are over: the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The ETS established how companies employing 100 or more people must implement the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. If the mandate covers your business, you only have a few weeks to get up to speed. Here is what you need to do now.

Vaccine Mandate implementations steps

When OSHA published the ETS regulations, the agency clarified what thousands of American HR professionals had considered – how to implement the vaccine mandate. The ETS covers private companies that employed 100 or more on November 5 when the ETS became effective or after.

Any business covered by the mandate has 30 days until December 5, 2021, to verify that its workforce is fully vaccinated. Employers have 60 days to comply with the weekly Covid-19 testing requirement for those who opt out of vaccination. It means HR professionals across the country are now under pressure to establish and verify their team’s vaccination status and take action.

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Technology Can Help

Vaccination verification does not have to be time-consuming or complex. Services like the vaccination verification platform from TrueCare™ help business owners, managers, and HR professionals with this process. It takes just a few hours to set up this platform within the organization.

The process is as simple as using any app. Once employees download the app to their phone, those who already have vaccinated upload their certificate for HR or a manager to verify; depending on their chosen vaccine, they may need to upload one or two certificates. Under the ETS, employees are considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after the vaccination completion.

Once verification is finalized, the employee’s status in the platform changes. If your business has several locations, it is easy to see which areas already comply and where additional work is needed.

As an HR professional, you benefit from access to a comprehensive, cost-effective tool that is easy to use for the entire team. Preparing reports for senior management and other authorities will take minutes. As employees join the company, change location, or leave your organization, it is straightforward to update or add and delete records as needed.

OSHA’s ETS includes reporting requirements. Any business covered by the rules needs to be able to vaccine documentation and test results by the end of the next business day. HR professionals may also need to check the number of fully vaccinated employees compared to the total number of staff in their workplace. By using a powerful, proven verification platform, you have this information at your fingertips as and when you need it.

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What About Exemptions?

Several employees are exempt under OSHA’s new regulations. Anyone working from home or is not in a workplace where they encounter colleagues or customers do not need to be vaccinated. The same applies to workers working outdoors.

In addition, businesses must accommodate those employees with medical conditions that prevent vaccination. However, if the medical condition is temporary, the employee must be vaccinated once they have recovered. Lastly, anyone with a disability or sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent them from becoming vaccinated is entitled to reasonable accommodation.

New employees joining your organization must be vaccinated as soon as is practicable. There is no need to delay their starting date, but they should quickly strive to comply with the ETS.

ETS legal challenges

The current ETS is technically known as the “interim final rule.” OSHA is asking stakeholders to submit comments on the standard’s details and opinions on whether it should become the final rule. Those need to be submitted by December 6, and there is a chance that some of the provisions of the ETS may change afterward. However, this does not change the December 5 deadline.

The same is true for potential legal challenges. Legal experts expect numerous challenges of the mandate in court. Legal proceedings are likely to take longer than the few weeks until businesses need to comply. Even if your organization is considering challenging the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, you need to comply now.

Any business that willfully disregards the regulations faces serious penalty payments. Serious violations currently carry a maximum penalty of $13,653, with willful violations potentially costing employers up to $136,652.

Steps to follow now

If the mandate covers your organization, and you have not yet started verifying your team’s vaccination status, don’t wait any longer! You have less than one month to comply or face hefty penalties.

Let your team know that the vaccine mandate is about making their workplace safer – for themselves, their friends, families, and loved ones. Constant internal communication will help reluctant staff understand the mandate’s importance – and it may just win them around in the long term.

Verify the vaccination status of the people in your organization and record any specific exemptions!

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