On April 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh placed a “hold” on the implementation of a potential U.S. Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which would set a national COVID-19 safety standard for OSHA-covered employers throughout the United States. While President Biden’s inauguration day Executive Order directed OSHA to focus its enforcement on COVID-19 efforts and set a March 15 deadline for determining whether an ETS was necessary and issuing it, Secretary Walsh stated that any ETS needs to “reflect the latest scientific analysis of the state of the disease” and is delaying its implementation until such scientific review is completed. At this time there isn’t any more information regarding how long the review period will last, and we don’t yet know when (if?) an ETS will ultimately be issued. That said, Walsh ordered a “rapid update based on [CDC] analysis and latest information regarding the state of vaccinations and the variants” stating that it would hopefully be turned over to the “next level” (presumably the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for review) “very soon.” We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
For more information on the recent OSHA National Emphasis Program (NEP), and immediate actions that OSHA-covered employers should take in light of the NEP, see our recent blog post.