Skip to content

How You Can Support OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Test ETS

Mandira Venkat Nov 8, 2021 12:00:00 AM
Read More

OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Test ETS Summary 

The OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) released on November 4th requires employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or implement weekly testing.  What are the key Employer takeaways from OSHA’s ETS?


  • OSHA’s new requirements preempt state requirements and each state will need to adopt a similar or more stringent standard than OSHA 
  • All the provisions except for those involving testing are effective December 5, 2021. 
  • The testing requirements are effective January 4, 2022. 
  • The ETS is in effect for a minimum of six months (May 4, 2022)

Determining Employee Vaccination Status

  • Employers need to determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination status, and maintain records and a roster of each employee’s vaccination status. Without proof of vaccination, employees are not considered fully vaccinated.
  • Employers are NOT responsible for employees who submit false vaccination cards unless they know that the proof is fraudulent. Employees will face the consequences of submitting false documentation. 
  • Employers do NOT currently need to keep track of booster shots as they are not included in the definition of fully vaccinated according to the ETS. This does not apply to two dose vaccines, two weeks past the second dose is required to be considered fully vaccinated.
  • Employers need to pay for time off to receive a vaccine and deal with side effects.

Testing Unvaccinated Employees at the Workplace

  • Employers must ensure each worker at the workplace, who is not fully vaccinated, undergo weekly testing with one of the acceptable testing options outlined in the ETS.  
  • An employee who does not come to the workplace on a regular basis need not be tested weekly, however the employer must ensure the employee is tested for COVID-19 within seven days prior to returning to the workplace and provides acceptable documentation of that test result to the employer upon return to the workplace.
  • Home testing and over the counter (OTC) tests are allowed only if observed by the employer or an authorized telehealth proctor.
  • Employers need not pay for time off for testing

Face Mask Requirements

  • Unvaccinated employees must wear a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work 
  • Employers do not need to pay for face coverings

Required Reporting and Notification

  • Upon request, employers are required to provide OSHA with the aggregate number of fully vaccinated employees at the workplace, along with the total number of employees within four hours of a request.
  • Employers must require employees to provide prompt notice when they test positive for COVID-19.  Employers must remove the employee from the workplace, employers must not allow them to return to work until they meet required safety criteria. 
  • Employers must report work-related COVID-19 hospitalizations within 24 hours of learning about them, and report work-related fatalities within 8 hours of learning about them. 
  • Employers are NOT required to conduct contact tracing
  • Employees are required to provide employees with information regarding the prohibitions of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 and Section 17(g) of the OSH Act, which provide for criminal penalties associated with knowingly supplying false statements or documentation. This provision will help minimize the likelihood that any employee provides false information.

Required Record Keeping Security Measures  

  • OSHA considers vaccination information part of employee medical records and this information should therefore be safeguarded as such
  • Vaccination and test records should be kept separately from an employee’s personnel file


  • The penalty for a serious violation is up to $13,653 per violation. 
  • The fine for a willful violation is up to $136,532 per violation

These requirements present a heavy record keeping and compliance burden on HR, whose resources have been exhausted since the onset of the pandemic.  A software solution makes it easy for HR to avoid OSHA fines, safeguard employee health information, and keep their workplace safe.  We’ve reviewed the OSHA ETS FAQ  and identified areas where our secure employee health safety platform could relieve HR’s program administration burden.   

Request a demo.

How You Can Easily Comply with OSHA’s ETS

Under the OSHA Vaccination and Test Mandate, employees have two options: 

  1. Mandate a vaccination for anyone entering the workplace 
  2. Track vaccination status but allow unvaccinated, undeclared, or employees exempt from the vaccination to enter the facility on a daily basis after a negative test within the past 7 days.  

To complement the OSHA ETS, ReturnSafe suggests daily health screening to ensure only healthy employees enter the facility.  

This next section outlines how ReturnSafe can help you easily comply with the new OSHA ETS.  Here is a short 2 minute video demo of ReturnSafe

Treat Employee Data as Medical Records

According to the ETS, “The records and roster required by the ETS are considered to be employee medical records and must be maintained as such records in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.1020 and must not be disclosed except as required or authorized by this ETS or other federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.”

ReturnSafe is HIPAA compliant and secures all date appropriately.  Here is a link to our Security Whitepaper and privacy policy for more information.

Collect and Manage Employee Vaccination Status

With ReturnSafe,  collecting vaccination status is done via either a mobile app (iOS or Android) or a Web app.  The collection process takes less than one minute.  Below is an example vaccine status reporting flow.  Employees can also upload exemption documentation via this process.

Employee Vaccination Status

Once the vaccination information is submitted by an employee, it is immediately available in the ReturnSafe HR Command Center. Here administrators can review and validate the information submitted.  The vaccination status information is considered part of an employee’s health record and it is stored on  a HIPAA compliant platform to protect employee privacy.  The Command Center has role-based access to ensure only admins with the right credentials can access the information.   

Vaccine Verification

Weekly testing

Employees who enter the workplace but have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 must provide a negative COVID-19 test result weekly to before reporting to work. Businesses are not required to pay for testing.  

Test results must be validated by a third party.  Employees cannot provide self-reported results. There are several approaches that a business can take in support of this requirement. 

  1. Have the employee get tested at a Point of Care (POC) facility such as CVS or Walgreens.  These facilities provide an official verified result, but they can cost between $120 and $180 dollars per test.
  2. Have employees use an OTC antigen test that offers a proctored solution such as  Abbott Labs BinaxNow.  These solutions provide a verified result but the video proctoring process is cumbersome and costly. 
  3. Employer provides a proctored on-site testing experience utilizing OTC tests.  A designated proctor can observe collection and validate results. Both the employee and proctor can sign the test result as proof of it being witnessed.  
  4. New Option:  Have employees use the recently approved BD Veritor at Home OTC antigen test that is virtually proctored and digitally read.

ReturnSafe supports all four options, but we believe options three and four offer the best solution for most organizations at this time.  Regardless of the approach, the ReturnSafe app can be used to report testing status and capture the validated result. The employee uses either the mobile or web app to upload an image of the validated result information.  

Employee Lab Tests

If an employer is utilizing the services of a lab to manage a testing program, these results can be bulk imported into the Command Center.  All test results records are available from within the HR Command Center.  

Test Management

Positive Case Management

ReturnSafe’s Case Manager makes it easy for employers to comply with the reporting and notification requirements of positive cases in the workplace. Within the platform, administrators can stay on top of positive COVID-19 cases and notify employees that they cannot return to work until cleared, notify close contacts that they were exposed, and keep track of other employees who may have COVID-19 given their symptoms and/ or exposure outside of the office.  With ReturnSafe, this data is securely stored and available for compliance reporting if/when required.   

Positive Case Management

Health Screening

With the prevalence of breakthrough cases, regardless of the vaccination or testing status of an employee, it is best practice that every employee be screened for their health status prior to entering the workplace.  Screening should be based upon the then current CDC guidelines for exposure and symptoms.  ReturnSafe supports this capability in both our mobile and web apps. 

Health Screening

With these vaccine tracking, testing, case management , and screening tools in their toolkit, HR can comfortably support the ETS requirements. With ReturnSafe’s all-in-one platform, employers can get up and running with all of the tools they need to comply with the new mandates in as little as a day.

Connect with our team to learn more! 

In addition to reviewing our blog, which summarizes the ETS requirements, we recommend employers review the following resources: 

SHRM OSHA ETS Webinar for HR/Employers


OSHA Vaccination or Test ETS

For more information on our solution, please visit the How it Works section of our website.