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OSHA Issues COVID Emergency Standard

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard on November 5. It was immediately challenged in court.

Under the standard, all private sector employers with 100 or more employees must develop, implement and enforce a COVID-19 vaccination policy, which may include an option for unvaccinated employees to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.

However, on November 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted an emergency motion to stay enforcement of the standard.

In addition to developing and enforcing a company COVID-19 vaccination policy, the standard requires employers to: 

  • Determine the vaccination status of employees and maintain vaccination records;
  • Require employees to provide prompt notice when they test positive for COVID-19;
  • Remove infected employees from the workplace until they meet the required criteria for return;
  • Ensure workers who are not fully vaccinated are tested weekly and tested within seven days before returning to work after being away from the workplace for a week or longer; and,
  • Ensure that, in most circumstances, unvaccinated workers wear a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes.

OSHA officials have said they are confident in the agency's legal authority to issue the rule and are "fully prepared" to defend it in court.

More information is available at COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (, and a summary from Jim Wimberly of Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider & Stine, Atlanta, is available on the COVID-19 Resources page of AHFA's website.