National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan Promises Updated OSHA Guidance
On March 2, the Biden Administration released a National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, committing OSHA to update the Agency's COVID-19 guidance. OSHA last updated its COVID-19 guidance on August 13, 2021.
The plan specifically requires that OSHA issue new guidance to "better equip employers with the tools they need to ensure safe workplaces, including guidance on how employers can continue to support increased vaccination and boosting of their employees; support workers such as people who are immunocompromised who choose to wear high-quality masks; limit workplace-based infections; and enhance ventilation."
Some of the state-run OSHA plans, including California OSHA, have withdrawn their mask requirements, even for unvaccinated employees. OSHA's August 2021 guidance recommends that fully vaccinated workers in areas of "substantial or high community transmission" wear masks. On March 3, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") released updated masking recommendations based on county-level rates of COVID-19 transmission. It is likely that OSHA's updated guidance will also include lesser masking recommendations/requirements.
On November 5, 2021, OSHA issued an Emergency Temporary Standard ("ETS") requiring employers with 100 or more employees to require COVID-19 vaccinations or regular testing. On January 13, 2022 the Supreme Court issued a stay of the emergency rule, and OSHA withdrew the ETS shortly thereafter.