Are you concerned about your organization being in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) emergency temporary standard (ETS) that may start as early as Dec. 6? Unsure of where things stand legally, and what if anything you should to comply?
If so, you are not alone! We are in uncharted waters and the changing rules and regulations are confusing for everyone – not to mention the stress around how to keep track of employees’ COVID-19 vaccination and testing results. That’s why VAX1Stop was created – to help you and your community stay safe. We are keeping tracking of all the latest news regarding COVID-19 and the workplace, and we have developed a solution to help track your employees’ vaccine and testing status. Follow us on social media to stay in the loop.
For now, let’s get start with our quick and easy guide to developing your COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.
The Current State of the ETS
The ETS has currently been suspended by OSHA as they wait for legal challenges to progress through the courts. However, a recent article shared by the Society of Human Resources Management, references several employment attorneys who recommend that companies continue to prepare as if the ETS is going to be allowed by the courts. They reason that it will take some time for employers to have tools and processes ready to comply with the ETS, and the deadlines are coming soon, so employers should continue to prepare for the ETS to take effect.
Moreover, the American Medical Association has come out strongly in support of the mandate and argues that vaccines are the best way to keep workers safe and slow the spread of the disease. The AMA’s official statement published last Thursday says, “We encourage all businesses with 100 or more employees to not delay in implementing this standard.”
What Does the ETS Require?
The upcoming ETS allows employers to either require COVID-19 vaccines or allow unvaccinated employees to wear a mask and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test on a weekly basis. The testing requirements may start as early as Dec. 6.
The ETS states the minimum an organization is required to do, but your organization can decide to do more and begin implementing your policy right away, if you choose.
Developing Your Policy
1. Understand the OSHA requirement and review any existing policies.
If you already have a policy in place that complies with the OSHA requirements, then you are fine. If you only need to make a few tweaks to your plan, that is great too. If you do not have a plan yet and are creating a new plan, start with a review of the requirements, and then start developing your plan.
2. Develop and/or revise policies to follow the OSHA ETS.
Your policy should include the following information:
- Requirements regarding COVID-19 vaccination and booster shots.
- Allowed exclusions from being vaccinated which may include medical reasons to delay or skip the vaccine, accommodations for workers with disabilities, and those with sincerely held religious beliefs.
- Proof of vaccination status. What documents will you allow? How will you track and store the information. (Our solution can help you. Learn more.)
- Policies for allowing paid time off and sick leave to receive vaccines.
- Processes for reporting positive COVID test and how to safely remove from the workplace.
- Location of information about the ETS, your organization’s policies, and vaccine safety.
- Description of disciplinary action for employees who do not follow your policy.
- Deadlines for complying with the policy.
Organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management have templates and other materials to assist you in developing your plan. VAX1Stop can help you too!
3. Begin collecting information regarding the number of employees vaccinated and proof of vaccination.
To assist with determining whether to allow weekly COVID testing, it will be helpful to know how many of your employees have been vaccinated. If your employees only work remotely or outdoors, they do not have to be vaccinated. However, if they meet with other people indoors at all, they will have to follow the ETS.
We recommend beginning to implement a vaccination tracking system, such as our VAX1Stop solution.
If most of your employees are already vaccinated, you may not need to offer testing. However, if you find that many of your employees are not vaccinated and are resistance to get vaccinate, you may decide to offer the testing/masking option.
4. Determine if weekly testing and mandatory masking will be allowed for those who decide not to get vaccinated.
Employers can decide to require all employees get vaccinated (and allow exceptions as noted above). This is the recommended option according to the American Medical Association. However, employers may choose to have unvaccinated workers submit weekly COVID-19 test results. Employers will be responsible for keeping track of these test results, but they do not have to pay for the actual tests.
If you allow employees to test, you will need to make sure you have a secure method for storing the information. Online vault systems with bank-level security that only employees have access to offer an ideal solution for keeping employee information safe.
5. Once you have determined your policies around COVID, choose a solution to record vaccination status and COVID testing, if needed.
While there are several solutions, ranging from having employees simply upload a picture of their vaccination cards, to more advanced solutions with dashboards to allow efficient tracking of COVID data, you will want to review your options and choose one that is safe, effective, and efficient. We are confident that once you review the options available, VAX1Stop will become your preferred solution. Book a call with us to learn more.
6. Get Your Employees on Board.
Once you have developed your plan, make sure it is clearly communicated with your employees. They will also need to be able to access the details of the plan. Make sure to communicate important deadlines with enough time for your employees to comply.
If you have chosen to implement a solution like VAX1Stop, you will want to launch the solution in advance of the ETS deadlines to ensure you are fully in compliance before the deadlines.
Make sure to communicate with employees that you are taking steps to protect their health and safety and to let everyone get back to normal. Make sure to cite sources and share statistics regarding the benefits of being vaccinated. Personal stories can also be helpful. It is also important to communicate that as the pandemic changes, policies and procedures may need to be changed.
We are all trying to figure out how to keep ourselves and each other safe during this trying time. VAX1Stop is here to help you develop your policies and implement our solution to protect your team.