OSHA Expected to Issue Emergency Temporary Standard on Vaccination – How Does it Affect Minnesota?

Two weeks ago, we discussed President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan, and the possible impacts on employers across the country.  As we discussed in that post, the plan directs the Federal OSHA to create a standard where all employers with over 100 employees will be required to mandate their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, or force employees to provide proof on a weekly basis that they are free from COVID-19.

But how does this federal mandate impact Minnesota, and how does it impact Minnesota’s public employers?

Minnesota Statute §182.655, subd. 13, requires the Minnesota OSHA to adopt standards that are “at least as effective as” federal OSHA.  Minnesota’s OSHA has 30 days from the date of federal issuance to adopt the standards created by the feds as written or an equivalent standard that is “at least as effective as” the federal standards to protect workers in Minnesota.

Because of this, we can expect Minnesota to adopt a same or equivalent standard to that created by the federal OSHA, which is expected to take place within the next two months.  Minnesota’s OSHA and all standards promulgated pursuant to the Act “shall apply to all places of employment within this state,” except for employees working for the federal government.

The last time we checked, the public employers within the state of Minnesota are still considered “places of employment within this state.”  As such, at the very least, large public employers across the state need to start preparing their workplaces for these emergency standards.

To take it a step further, the Minnesota OSHA also applies independent contractors, no matter how organized, doing building construction or improvements in the public or private sector.  Those contractors must adhere to the occupational safety and health standards that apply to an employer and its employees.  So even if an independent contractor is small and exempt from the 100-employees-or-less standard, they can expect that if they are working any jobs for a large employer, they will need to adhere to any safety standards that apply to the employer for which they are working.

As we originally stated, this incoming emergency standard is far-reaching, and has the ability to affect far more employers than are listed in the presidential order.  Because of this, your organization needs to be ready to comply with the standards created.  If you, or your organization, need assistance with adapting to the new regulations as they are rolled out, contact Wiley Reber Law, for legal advice that works.