How to Stay Compliant with the OSHA Vaccination Emergency Temporary Standard
So you’re wondering how the new COVID-19 Vaccination or Weekly Testing Mandate will affect your company? This blog post should clear some of those questions up.
The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) applies to private companies with 100 or more employees as well as certain government entities in many states. OSHA estimates that ETS will affect two-thirds of US employers and over 84 Million workers! The good news is we have plenty on what you can do beyond just implementing additional controls – so read ahead for a few helpful tips:
1. Understand the OSHA vaccine or test mandate
The OSHA COVID-19 vaccine or test mandate requires that companies must require employees to either be vaccinated or do weekly COVID-19 tests. All private-sector businesses with 100 or more employees as of November 5, 2021, are covered by the ETS requirement. Even if they work in many offices, all full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers count toward the 100-employee maximum.
2. Know what date this mandate will be enforced
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will not enforce the ETS before January 10, 2022, and as long as an employer is making a good faith effort to remain in line with the law, OSHA will continue delaying enforcement for weekly testing of unvaccinated employees until February 9, 2022.
3. What are some ways that employers can comply with this requirement
Employers must cover all costs for vaccination, excluding transportation fees. Employers must also provide certain paid/unpaid leave to allow time for vaccination and recovery (see Covered Leaves of Absence).
In addition to the vaccination and testing criteria, the rule also stipulates that firms must identify who among their employees have been immunized and who haven’t, as well as enforce a mask requirement for workers who haven’t been vaccinated.
In the instance that OSHA requests proof that the ETS is being implemented, employers must submit employee-specific vaccination and/or testing data to OSHA within one business day.
4. How should employers store records
Employers must keep a paper or digital copy of the documents. However, if most of the staff are returning their physical paperwork and having them scanned, this procedure may be time-consuming. Businesses should consider adopting software solutions to track vaccine records and testing statuses to reduce the burden on employees and HR. Having this evidence in a secure, HIPAA-compliant database reduces the need to manually collect this information and makes it easily accessible. The ETS requires that employers store this information during the entire ETS period.
4a. What qualifies as proof of vaccination
The following qualify as proof of vaccination:
- An immunization record from a licensed health care provider or pharmacy;
- A COVID-19 vaccination card;
- Medical records documenting vaccination;
- Immunization records from a governmental entity;
- Other official records identifying the vaccine administered, the date of vaccination, and the health care provider who administered the vaccine; and
- An employee attestation of vaccination if the employee is unable to produce one of the other forms of proof.
5. What are some consequences of not staying compliant with the OSHA vaccination and testing mandate
Businesses must follow the new rule since non-compliance may have financial consequences. If a covered employer is discovered to violate the standard, OSHA may impose a penalty of up to $13,653 for each violation. Employers who openly or repeatedly violate the standard can be fined up to $136,532.
Understand what it takes to remain in good standing with the ETS, or you may be fined. Employers should consider using HIPAA-compliant reporting and record-keeping software. If your firm has more than 100 workers and is not yet compliant with the new COVID-19 immunization or testing requirement, get in touch with us right away so we can help get you up to speed quickly!