DOL Extends Comment Period for Vaccination, Heat Rules

12.07.2021
HR & Safety

Employers have more time to comment on federal COVID-19 vaccination rules as well as a proposed heat-specific workplace standard. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration extended the comment period by 45 days to Jan. 19 to allow employers time to review and comment on its Emergency Temporary Standard for workplace vaccinations. 

The federal electronic rulemaking portal is the only way to submit comments on the Nov. 5 rule, which the administration said is aimed at protecting workers from the spread of COVID-19 at work. 

More than 400 comments have been posted, including some requesting an extension of the comment period. 

Emergency Temporary Standard

The ETS covers private sector employers with 100 or more employees.

It requires those employers to develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.

Unvaccinated employees must also wear a face covering at work. 

Employers should note that the extension is separate from the stay issued by the U.S. Fifth Circuit and the review of the standard currently being conducted by the U.S. Sixth Circuit. 

Though OSHA has suspended all activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS pending litigation, it is actively encouraging public feedback.

Heat-Specific Rules

The deadline for submitting comments regarding the proposed rulemaking for heat injury and illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings has also been extended by 30 days.

Organizations have until Jan. 26 to share their thoughts about the proposed rule. 

OSHA does not currently have a heat-specific standard to protect workers from exposure to hazardous heat conditions. 

OSHA has made several efforts in recent months to protect workers from heat-related illnesses and deaths while working in hazardously hot indoor and outdoor environments. 

OSHA has also instituted a heat-related enforcement initiative and plans to issue a National Emphasis Program for heat-related safety efforts in 2022.

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