Effective on January 26, 2022, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has withdrawn the vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard (ETS) issued on November 5, 2021, to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers with 100 or more employees from workplace exposure to COVID-19.
The move follows the Supreme Court vote earlier in January to block enforcement of the mandate.
The November 5 mandate requiring employees of covered employers to get vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests and wear a mask was followed within a week by a court order stating, in part, that “the Mandate imposes a financial burden upon them by deputizing their participation in OSHA’s regulatory scheme, exposes them to severe financial risk if they refuse or fail to comply, and threatens to decimate their workforces (and business prospects) by forcing unwilling employees to take their shots, take their tests, or hit the road.”
While dentistry overall would have been unaffected by the November mandate—practices have been largely exempted from OSHA rulings on COVID-19 for health-care workplace settings—there was speculation that subsequent rulings could affect DSOs, as within the industry they are the most likely to have more than 100 employees.
According to OSHA’s statement on their latest move, although the office is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, it’s not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule. The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.