COVID-19 Testing for Employees Not Fully Vaccinated Under the ETS

On Nov. 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a federal emergency temporary standard (ETS) to address the grave danger of COVID-19 infection in the workplace. Affected employers will be required to comply with most provisions of the ETS by Dec. 6, 2021, and with its testing requirements by Jan. 4, 2022. Affected employers include private employers with 100 or more employees (firm- or company-wide count).

The ETS creates new employer obligations with respect to employees who are not fully vaccinated, including a requirement to ensure unvaccinated employees are tested for COVID-19. While OSHA’s stated preference is for employers to implement written mandatory vaccination policies, the ETS also regulates procedures to protect workers who remain unvaccinated—regular testing, use of face coverings and removal of infected employees from the workplace.

This Compliance Bulletin covers the ETS requirements for COVID-19 testing for employees who are not fully vaccinated.

Important Definitions

Fully vaccinated means:

  1. A person’s status two weeks after completing primary vaccination with a COVID-19 vaccine with, if applicable, at least the minimum recommended interval between doses in accordance with the approval, authorization or listing; or
  2. A person’s status two weeks after receiving the second dose of any combination of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that is approved or authorized by the FDA, or listed as a two-dose series by the WHO.

Action Steps

Employers should review, understand and implement the requirements for COVID-19 testing for their employees who are not fully vaccinated.

Important Dates

  • Nov. 5, 2021 – ETS effective date
  • Dec. 6, 2021 – Compliance date for most ETS provisions
  • Jan. 4, 2022 – Compliance date for ETS testing requirement

Routine Testing Background

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