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Federal OSHA's rule requiring COVID-19 vaccination or testing for large employers delayed

November 16, 2021 3158
Image includes a sign that reads: OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Quick Summary:

“While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation,” a notice on the Department of Labor website states. Cal/OSHA is planning to update in a month or two its ETS. Proposed amendments will lead to changes in CDA’s resources on managing employees who are exposed or test positive for COVID-19.

Citing the need for further review, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Nov. 12 granted a motion to suspend federal OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard that was due to take effect Jan. 4. The court ordered that OSHA “take no steps to implement or enforce” the ETS “until further court order,” according to a notice on the Department of Labor website.

“While OSHA remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies, OSHA has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending future developments in the litigation,” the notice states.

As CDA reported last week, OSHA’s new ETS requiring full COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing and masking for unvaccinated workers, would apply only to employers with 100 or more workers and therefore would only apply to dental practices in California that employ at least 100 workers across all practice locations.

Separately, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ issued a rule Nov. 4 requiring full COVID-19 vaccination by Jan. 4 for workers at specified health care facilities that receive federal funding from Medicare or Medicaid. Weekly testing is not an option for those workers, and affected employers should proceed to comply by the deadline.

Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention ETS remains in effect

In California, dental practices of all sizes should already be complying with Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 Prevention ETS and the state’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing mandates for workers in high-risk settings. Cal/OSHA is planning to update in a month or two its ETS. Proposed amendments will lead to changes in CDA’s resources on managing employees who are exposed or test positive for COVID-19. 

In some counties, dentists and staff should be complying with stricter local mandates that do not allow a weekly testing option. 

Dentists in California should also be aware that they are now permitted to apply for the requisite state laboratory licensure to administer waived tests, including certain rapid COVID-19 tests, in the office after CDA-sponsored legislation was signed into law in October.

CDA will keep members informed about developments with the federal OSHA ETS, including possible changes to the standard and its effective date, plus CDA resources to assist compliance with Cal/OSHA’s updated ETS.