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OSHA Announces Draft Emergency Temporary Standard on COVID-19

OSHA announced on Monday that it sent a draft emergency temporary standard (ETS) on workplace safety rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.


OSHA has authority to issue an ETS if it determines that workers are in grave danger due to exposure to new hazards and that an emergency standard is needed to protect them. OSHA then submits the ETS to OMB for review before publication in the Federal Register, where it also serves as a proposed permanent standard. The validity of an emergency temporary standard may be challenged in an appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals.


President Biden issued 10 executive orders the day after the Inauguration, including the “Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety,” which required OSHA to release revised guidance to employers on workplace safety regarding the COVID-19 pandemic within two weeks. OSHA released updated guidance and recommendations on January 29, 2021, recommending that employers “implement COVID-19 prevention programs in the workplace,” and outlinings how employers can create such a program. Additionally, President Biden’s executive order mandated that OSHA consider emergency temporary standards on COVID-19, and if such standards are determined to be necessary, issue them by March 15, 2021.


The House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections has a hearing scheduled on Friday, April 30th via Zoom titled: "Protecting Workers from COVID-19: Monitoring the Status of OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard."


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