Yesterday SC OSHA issued a press release announcing their intention to promulgate their own Infectious Disease standard instead of adopting the new COVID ETS that was issued by Federal OSHA on June 21, 2021. Therefore, in South Carolina the Federal COVID ETS does not create any additional compliance obligations. Instead, employers in South Carolina will be required to follow the standard that South Carolina OSHA develops if it is adopted.
South Carolina has an approved state-run OSHA program. As such, they are required to adopt standards that are at or above requirements at the Federal level. We expect the new South Carolina Infectious Disease standard will have requirements that are similar to the Federal COVID ETS, but targets more than a single disease. In the interim, employers are expected to continue to protect employees as they have throughout the pandemic and follow all current CDC guidance. The general duty clause and specific OSHA standards (Respiratory, PPE, etc.) would be used in the event that any inspections performed during this period resulted in citation related to COVID.
South Carolina OSHA has not released a schedule for publication of its new standard at this time, but we are keeping a close eye on it and will keep updating our members as more information becomes available.
For examples of other state-run OSHA programs that currently have an infectious disease standard, look at the following:
- California – California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 5199. Aerosol Transmissible Diseases
- New York- NY HERO Act | Department of Labor
- Oregon (in process)- Oregon Occupational Safety and Health : Infectious Disease Rulemaking : Infectious Disease : State of Oregon
Additionally, the Department of Labor has extended the public comment period for the Federal COVID ETS until August 20th.