OSHA Extends Comment Period For COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard
Last month, The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a new emergency temporary standard to protect more than 84 million workers from the spread of the coronavirus on the job. While the initial comment period for this standard was set for mid-December, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has since extended it to Jan. 19, 2022. OSHA extended the comment period by 45 days to allow stakeholders additional time to review the ETS and collect information and data necessary for comment.
The standard holds particularly high stakes for the frontline workers in the cleaning industry, as they are among the most vulnerable to contract COVID-19 especially in healthcare and hospitality sectors. Since 2020, the coronavirus has led to the deaths of 750,000 people in the U.S., and the infection of millions more, making it the deadliest pandemic in the nation's history. Many of the people killed and infected by this virus were workers whose primary exposures occurred at their jobs. OSHA estimates that this rule will save thousands of lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations due to workplace exposure to COVID-19 over the course of the ETS.
In the 26 states and two territories with OSHA State Plans, the ETS will also cover public sector workers employed by state and local governments, including educators and school staff. The ETS covers employers with 100 or more employees. Covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.
Comments can be submitted — identified by Docket No. OSHA-2021-0007 — electronically at https://www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Follow the online instructions for making electronic submissions. The Federal e-Rulemaking Portal is the only way to submit comments on this rule. Read the Nov. 5, 2021 Federal Register notice for details.