The Occupational Safety and Health Administration – better known as OSHA – has released its masking, testing, and vaccines requirements. The emergency temporary standard, or ETS, was published earlier this month, with new safety rules and regulations in place for workplaces with 100 employees or more. While the Fifth Circuit Court ruled to permanently block the vaccine requirement outlined by OSHA, employers are still working to get in compliance, since experts believe the Supreme Court will uphold President Joe Biden’s request for all workers to get vaccinated.
If you’re finding it challenging to keep up with the changing standards and OSHA requirements, you’re not alone. We’ve assembled some of the most frequently asked questions associated with OSHA’s COVID-19 requirements. Check back anytime you find yourself confused about your workplace’s implementation of COVID-19 safety policies.
Do I Need to be Vaccinated to Keep My Job?
Effective November 5, 2021, workers at companies with at least 100 employees on staff were required to be vaccinated. Now, that requirement is being challenged in the courts. There has been a temporary stay of this part of OSHA’s COVID-19 safety requirements, so much hangs in the balance. For now, you don’t need to be vaccinated in order to keep your position – but that could change soon.
Are Regular COVID-19 Tests Required?
Unvaccinated employees will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing. Expect to take a test at least once a week if you’re not yet vaccinated.
Will I Need to Wear a Mask at Work?
Employees who have not been vaccinated must wear a face mask in the workplace. If you’re fully vaccinated – meaning you’ve received two shots of either Moderna or Pfizer, or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – you can wear a mask at your own discretion.
All My Work Duties are Performed Outside. Do I Still Need to Meet These Requirements?
If 100 percent of your work duties are indeed performed outdoors, you’ll be exempt from OSHA’s requirements. If you occasionally head indoors for a meeting, a lunch break, or to clock in and out, however, you’ll need to get vaccinated or mask up.
I’m an Isolated Worker. Am I Exempt?
ETS doesn’t apply to employees who don’t report to a workplace where their colleagues or customers are present. Truck drivers, in particular, applauded this exemption, as they spend the majority of their time alone on the road.
Are Remote Workers Exempt from OSHA Requirements?
The answer depends on how you define remote. If you work from home 100 percent of the time and never venture into the office, you’ll be exempt from these requirements. But if you split your hours between home and your workplace, you’ll need to get fully vaccinated or obtain a negative test result within a week of heading into the office.
It’s important to note that the remote worker exemption doesn’t apply to those who travel for work. If you’re a delivery worker, a salesperson, or a contractor who regularly visits customers on the road, you’ll be required to get vaccinated.
Are Temporary Hires and Independent Contractors Subject to OSHA Requirements?
Independent contractors are just that: independent of the company for which they provide services. Because of that independence, these workers don’t count toward the 100-employee rule, nor are they subject to OSHA’s COVID-19 requirements.
Temporary hires, on the other hand, may indeed count toward the 100-employee rule. If a temporary worker is employed at any time while the ETS is in effect, they must abide by OSHA rules and regulations – including masking, vaccination, and weekly testing.
How Long Will Workers Have to Follow These COVID-19 Rules?
These rules are set to be in effect for about six months. Of course, given the unpredictable nature of COVID-19 and pandemics in general, it’s possible that vaccination, masking, and testing requirements could continue well after the six-month mark.
Do You Have More Questions About OSHA, COVID-19 and Your Workplace?
If you’re worried about how your workplace is implementing the policies laid out by OSHA’s ETS, you may want to speak with an attorney about your concerns. The experienced team of attorneys at Cullotta Bravo Law Firm can help you hold negligent employers responsible for their actions. Call us now at 630-225-8341 or contact us online.