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OSHA Withdraws Vaccine Mandate

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has withdrawn its vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard due to a ruling by the Supreme Court holding up the standard only for healthcare workers.

The withdrawal went into effect on Jan. 26.

OSHA is not withdrawing the emergency standard as a proposed rule.

The temporary standard was put into place on Nov. 5, 2021 to protect unvaccinated employees at companies with 100 or more works from experiencing workplace exposure to COVID-19.

The agency, which oversees workers’ health and safety issues, is now focusing its resources on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard. And the agency continues to encourage workers to get vaccinated against the highly contagious and sometimes deadly coronavirus.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh issued a statement on the emergency standard following the Supreme Court ruling.

“I am disappointed in the court’s decision, which is a major setback to the health and safety of workers across the country,” Walsh said. “OSHA stands by the Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard as the best way to protect the nation’s workforce from a deadly virus that is infecting more

than 750,000 Americans each day and has taken the lives of nearly a million Americans.”

He said the emergency standard was written under the authority of Congress to protect workers facing coronavirus danger in the workplace. Walsh said the standard was based on science and data that show the effectiveness of the vaccines.

“The commonsense standards established in the ETS remain critical, especially during the current surge, where unvaccinated people are 15-20 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated people,” Walsh said. “OSHA will be evaluating all options to ensure workers are protected from this deadly virus.”

Even without the emergency standard in place, OSHA continues to urge all employers to require their workers to get the vaccine or get tested weekly to fight the continuing pandemic. “Employers are responsible for the safety of their workers on the job, and OSHA has comprehensive COVID-19 guidance to help them uphold their obligation,” Walsh said.

Only about 60% of construction workers are vaccinated at this point, much lower than the 80% for the overall population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend that employees stay at least six feet apart, when possible, and that employers limit the number of workers in small spaces, such as elevators, trailers and vehicles.

The CDC recommends using face masks in public places and where social distancing is not possible. Masks may prevent the spread of COVID-19 from people who do not even realize they are carriers.

For those who choose the vaccine, reports show that only 0.3% of those who get the first shot experience allergic reactions or anaphylaxis. Only 0.2% experience those reactions after getting fully vaccinated.

While some individuals experience more adverse effects from the COVID-19 vaccination, it is rare.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.