More FAQs about COVID and the OSHA ETS
The information changes frequently, so we encourage you to check the Minnesota Department of Health COVID pages and the most current CDC guidelines. The information presented here is current as of December 28, 2021.
What’s going on with the OSHA ETS?
The OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard is moving forward. On a federal level, companies with 100 or more employees must maintain a list of who has been vaccinated. They can either mandate vaccines (which is one of our best defenses against serious illness) or require employees who are not vaccinated to test for COVID-19 weekly and wear a mask.
What are the deadlines?
Companies must have a policy in place and a roster of vaccinated employees by January 10. The weekly testing or vaccine mandate must be in place by February 9.
That’s federal. What is Minnesota doing?
Minnesota OSHA has said they will adopt the ETS by reference, meaning they will adopt it as published by federal OSHA. That should be in the State Register on January 3.
Who pays for testing?
In Minnesota, the company must pay for testing. A specific MN statute, 181.61 Medical Examination; Records; Costs requires the employer to pay for any mandatory medical testing.
Isn’t the ETS headed for the Supreme Court? If so, do companies really need to do anything?
The Supreme Court isn’t going to look at this until January 7. There is no stay on the ETS, which means it goes forward until we hear otherwise.
COVID-19: What’s New?
The CDC issued new quarantine / isolation guidelines on December 27, in some cases allowing for just five days of staying home. See below for the whole explanation. As of the time we are writing this, the MN Department of Health has not changed their guidelines, but stated that they will be reviewing them. States can be stricter, based on the number of cases of COVID, which has been high in Minnesota. While the Omicron variant might not result in cases that are as serious, it is much more contagious.
What’s the difference between quarantine and isolation?
Quarantine is when you separate yourself from others after having had close contact with someone who has COVID.
Isolation is for people who have tested positive: avoid any contact with others, use a separate bathroom and stay in an isolated room at home, if at all possible. Wear a mask when not alone.
So, what are the new guidelines?
If you test positive
Regardless of vaccination status:
- Stay home for 5 days (start the count the day after you first have symptoms or test positive)
- If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are improving after 5 days, you can leave the house. If you have a fever, stay home until the fever resolves (without medication)
- For at least the next five days, continue to wear a well-fitting mask whenever you are around others.
If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 (vaccinated or boosted)
Have you had your booster? Or have had your last Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months? Or a J&J vaccine within the last two months?
- You do not need to quarantine
- For ten days, wear a well-fitting mask whenever you are around others
- Get tested after 5 days or if you develop symptoms.
If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you have not had a vaccine or booster
If you are not vaccinated, or don’t fit into the above categories (no booster, months since your last vaccine)
- Stay home for 5 days. Then, for the next 5 days, wear a well-fitting mask when you are around others
- Get tested after 5 days
- If you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home.
What type of mask should be worn?
An N95 or KN95 is the best. You can also double mask—a surgical type mask under a cloth mask. Make sure the mask fits tightly to your face, forms to your nose and does not have gaps. CHESS staff uses the Readimask N95, which adheres to the face rather than having straps. You can order them at https://readimask.com/ For a 20% discount, enter the discount code: CHESS20
What’s the best defense?
As the Director of the CDC wrote: “Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”
Lockout Tagout Reminders
Any company that has equipment that could start up while someone is working on the equipment must have a lockout/tagout program that outlines how you will prevent someone from getting injured.
Types of energy that need to be controlled may include: electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, heat, gas under pressure, steam, mechanical, gravity, and residual. There are three components to a program: the written program, equipment specific procedures, and annual audits. The audits must include a review of the procedures and of the employees who lock out equipment.
Hazardous waste reports are due by January 31 for companies in the seven county metro area, except Hennepin County. Hennepin County reporting should have been done.
If you have spray painting operations, whether you still have an air quality permit or not, you should request your year end VOC report.
If you need help with lockout/tagout, more information on the OSHA ETS on COVID-19, or just have general safety questions, please contact us.