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Federal OSHA issues emergency temporary standard

On Nov. 5, 2021, federal OSHA issued the COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers (100 or more employees) from the risk of contracting COVID-19 by strongly encouraging vaccination. Covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with an exception for employers that instead adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or elect to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work in lieu of vaccination. Minnesota Statutes § 182.655, subdivision 13, requires Minnesota OSHA (MNOSHA) to adopt standards that are "at least as effective as" that of federal OSHA.

Therefore, MNOSHA has 30 days from the date of federal ETS issuance to adopt this standard as written or an equivalent standard that is "as effective as" this standard to protect workers in Minnesota. Based on these considerations, MNOSHA expects to adopt the federal ETS as written within 30 days. The ETS will be effective immediately in Minnesota as of the date of its publication in the State Register. MNOSHA will monitor current litigation and judicial outcomes and re-evaluate if litigation changes MNOSHA's obligations as a state-plan state.

Employers must comply with most provisions of the ETS by Dec. 6, 2021. Employers must comply with the testing requirement for unvaccinated employees by Jan. 4, 2022. These dates are subject to change by judicial determination as the current litigation makes its way through the process.

ETS webinars

To learn more about the requirements of this ETS, attend one of MNOSHA's three informational webinars Nov. 16, 18 or 22. View registration information.

MNOSHA adopts occupational exposure to COVID-19 emergency temporary standard

On June 21, 2021, federal OSHA published an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) (www.osha.gov/coronavirus/ets) in the Federal Register. Federal OSHA has issued an ETS to protect health care workers and health care support service workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19 in settings where people with COVID-19 are reasonably expected to be present.

On July 19, 2021, Minnesota OSHA adopted the ETS by reference. The ETS was effective in Minnesota as of the date of publication in the State Register, July 19, 2021.

During the period of the emergency standard, covered health care employers must develop and implement a COVID-19 plan to identify and control COVID-19 hazards in the workplace. Covered employers must also implement other requirements to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in their workplaces, related to the following: patient screening and management; standard and transmission-based precautions; personal protective equipment (PPE), including facemasks or respirators; controls for aerosol-generating procedures; physical distancing of at least six feet when feasible; physical barriers; cleaning and disinfection; ventilation; health screening and medical management; training; anti-retaliation; recordkeeping; and reporting.

The standard encourages vaccination by requiring employers to provide reasonable time and paid leave for employee vaccinations and any side effects. It also encourages use of respirators, where respirators are used in lieu of required facemasks, by including a mini respiratory protection program that applies to such use.

Finally, the standard exempts from coverage certain workplaces where all employees are fully vaccinated and individuals with possible COVID-19 are prohibited from entry; and it exempts from some of the requirements of the standard fully vaccinated employees in well-defined areas where there is no reasonable expectation that individuals with COVID-19 will be present.


Request to receive notices of Minnesota OSHA rule proceedings

The Department of Labor and Industry maintains a list of people who have registered to receive notices of agency rule proceedings.