State OSHA's Emergency Temporary Standards for COVID-19

State OSHA's Emergency Temporary Standards for COVID-19

November 13, 2020

As this pandemic began, we all had to re-imagine how to provide a safe workplace for our employees with little information. As we near the end of 2020, we may not have all the answers, but our national and local OSHA departments have been developing a collection of resources to formalize workplace safety guidelines.

Many state OSHA departments have been considering temporary emergency standards to protect employees from COVID-19. Most recently, on Oct. 14th, Michigan OSHA implemented temporary emergency rules. Under these rules in Michigan, employers must have:

  • A written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan
  • Provide training to their employees on at least:
    • Workplace infection-control practices
    • Proper use of PPE
    • Steps employees must take to notify the business of COVID-19 Symptoms
    • How to report unsafe working conditions
  • Conduct – consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines – daily pre-shift health checks such as temperature screenings, checking visual symptoms, self-assessment checklists and/or health questionnaires.
  • Provide workers and visitors with approved sanitizing materials at no cost.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect high-touch areas per CDC guidance.
  • Ensure employees are practicing proper hand hygiene and provide sufficient breaks for that purpose.
  • Promptly notify employees of any known COVID-19 exposures at the worksite.
  • Exclude sick employees from the workplace and following applicable leave law requirements.

Michigan is not the only state to implement these rules; Virginia has an emergency temporary standard, and Oregon has a draft standard in review. Fortunately, many businesses have created processes and procedures that address these rules. To be prepared for more emergency standards from OSHA, it is a good idea to continually review your COVID-19 plans and monitor your local departments for updates. 

Below is a list of links to state-specific COVID-19 Rules;

California (the Cal/OSHA standard) (unclear how this guidance is being enforced) (sample guidance) (L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a proposal to facilitate worker-led health councils to monitor business compliance with public health orders mitigating the spread of COVID-19 at work)

Illinois (initial EO issued Apr. 30th) (updated EO issued May 29th) (issued by Illinois Department of Public Health)

From the reopening checklists now being published: "Any employee who has had close contact with a co-worker or any other person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days after the last/most recent contact with the infectious individual and should seek a COVID-19 test at a state or local government testing center, healthcare center or other testing locations. All other employees should be on alert for symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath and taking temperature if symptoms develop."




Michigan OSHA issued Emergency Rules for COVID-19 on Oct. 14th, 2020. (See related press release.)

Two executive orders previously issued (here and here) will no longer be enforced by the state due to a Michigan Supreme Court decision on Oct. 2nd invalidating the orders.

Minnesota (for meat) (on the right to refuse work)


New Jersey (the state is updating industry-specific guidance as well)

New York (some essential industries remain without guidance)

Oregon (executive order) (Oregon OSHA) (enforcing the EO)

Pennsylvania (Philadelphia ordinance that includes retaliation protections for raising concerns or refusing unsafe work; plus private right of action)

Rhode Island

Virginia (Virginia OSH has just passed the nation's first Emergency Temporary Standard for workers, which will be effective the week of Jul. 27th)

Washington State (this is written as enforceable guidance) (enforcement)