OSHA Vaccine Mandate for Large Employers is Not Dead Yet

by: Jessica Waltman, Principal, Forward Health Consulting

On January 25, 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) announced that they are withdrawing the Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that was adopted in November 2021, effective immediately. However, OSHA specifically notes that they are exclusively withdrawing the policy as an “enforceable emergency temporary standard;” they are not withdrawing it as a proposed rule. This means that OSHA is still trying to make the vaccination and testing mandate into law, they are just using a more formal process that, while slower, is more likely to survive legal scrutiny.

This announcement does not have any direct practical impact currently because the Supreme Court blocked enforcement of the ETS on January 13, 2022.

The OSHA withdrawal also has no impact on the federal government’s vaccine mandate for employees at certain health care facilities that receive federal funding. As a reminder, the Supreme Court voted to allow the healthcare worker vaccination requirement to continue while ongoing legal challenges work their way through the lower federal courts.

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