OSHA issues COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers

November 4, 2021

Land Line Staff

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a new emergency temporary standard to protect more than 84 million workers from the spread of the coronavirus on the job.

“The nation’s unvaccinated workers face grave danger from workplace exposure to coronavirus, and immediate action is necessary to protect them,” OSHA said in a news release.

Under the standard, covered employers must “develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.”

More than 750,000 people in the U.S. have died of the coronavirus since last year. OSHA estimates this rule will save thousands of lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations due to workplace exposure to COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on workers, and we continue to see dangerous levels of cases,” said U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. “We must take action to implement this emergency temporary standard to contain the virus and protect people in the workplace against the grave danger of COVID-19. Many businesses understand the benefits of having their workers vaccinated against COVID-19, and we expect many will be pleased to see this OSHA rule go into effect.”

The emergency temporary standard covers employers with 100 or more employees – firm or companywide – and provides options for compliance. It also requires employers to provide paid time to workers to get vaccinated and to allow for paid leave to recover from any side effects.

It also requires employers to do the following:

  • Determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination status from vaccinated employees and maintain records and a roster of each employee’s vaccination status.
  • Require employees to provide prompt notice when they test positive for COVID-19 or receive a COVID-19 diagnosis. Employers must then remove the employee from the workplace, regardless of vaccination status. Employers must not allow them to return to work until they meet required criteria.
  • Ensure each worker who is not fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if the worker is in the workplace at least once a week) or within seven days before returning to work (if the worker is away from the workplace for a week or longer).
  • Ensure that, in most circumstances, each employee who has not been fully vaccinated wears a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes.

The emergency temporary standard does not require employers to pay for testing or face coverings.

The standard takes effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register on Nov. 5. Employers must comply with most requirements within 30 days of publication and with testing requirements within 60 days of publication.

The notice also serves as a proposal for normal rulemaking for a final standard. OSHA is seeking comment on all aspects of this ETS and whether the agency should adopt it as a final standard.

OOIDA opposes vaccine mandate

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes a vaccine mandate. The Association has thrown its support behind a bill that would exempt truckers and other essential workers from vaccine mandates.

The Keeping Our COVID-19 Heroes Employed Act, was introduced by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., on Oct. 27. The bill defines an essential worker as anyone who government bodies deemed “essential” or was exempt from any restrictions during the response to the pandemic. LL

 

Lucas Oil