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OSHA withdraws ETS on COVID-19 vaccination and testing

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Washington — OSHA is withdrawing its emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masking, the agency announced Jan. 25.

A notice of withdrawal, set for publication in the Jan. 26 Federal Register, comes after the U.S. Supreme Court halted enforcement of the ETS with a 6-3 decision Jan. 13. The case was sent back to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a hearing on the merits of the ETS.

Despite the withdrawal, OSHA says it will continue moving forward with the ETS as a proposed rule.

“OSHA continues to strongly encourage the vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace,” the notice states.

For the near future, OSHA says it will focus its resources on finalizing a permanent standard for COVID-19 focused on health care workers, which began as a separate ETS. The agency withdrew the non-recordkeeping portions of that ETS on Dec. 27.

 

OSHA published its ETS on COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masking in the Nov. 5 Federal Register, giving employers with 100-plus employees 30 days to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy – or provide a policy that gives workers the choice to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

The ETS was immediately challenged in the courts, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay Nov. 12. The 6th Circuit ended that stay with a 2-1 decision Dec. 17.