The US Supreme Court’s January 13, 2022 ruling rejected Federal OSHA’s COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) for large employers, including the controversial vaccination and testing mandate for workplaces with 100 or more employees. However, in a 5-4 vote, the court affirmed the separate healthcare worker mandate, which requires vaccination of healthcare facility workers against COVID-19, including those in hospitals and nursing homes that accept money from Medicare and Medicaid government health insurance programs. The Federal COVID-19 ETS does not allow a testing option for healthcare workers. 

Last month, amid legal challenges in Federal courts, Cal/OSHA put its response to the Federal COVID-19 ETS on pause pending resolution. Now that the US Supreme court has ruled, California must act on the healthcare worker component of the Federal ETS.

What does this mean? Since California is an OSHA State Plan state and sets its own occupational health and safety standards, Cal/OSHA has 15 days to notify OSHA (federal) if they plan to adopt the Federal ETS for healthcare workers or something else they believe will be at least as effective, and another 15 days (30 days total) to conduct the adoption. For non-healthcare employers, the current California standard remains in place, with its re-adopted version taking effect January 14, 2022 and by Governor Newsom’s executive order remaining in place through 2022. PRISM members should continue to comply with the California ETS.

The California Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Standards Board is scheduled to meet January 20th, and PRISM will report developments that come from said meeting. In the meantime, PRISM will continue to follow the rulemaking process and associated legal landscape closely. If you have any questions regarding the current California ETS or the Cal/OSHA rulemaking process, please do not hesitate to reach out to PRISM Risk Control.