On Oct. 20, ABC met with the Office of Management and Budget to express its concerns about the forthcoming U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard, which will apply to employers with 100 or more employees as required by President Biden’s Path Out of the Pandemic COVID-19 Action Plan. Currently, the OSHA ETS is at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB for final review before it is officially published in the federal register. At this time, neither OMB nor DOL have made the contents of the ETS public.
During the OMB meeting, ABC highlighted key areas of concern for members, including workforce shortages that would be exacerbated by the ETS, massive disruptions to an already stressed supply chain, employer and employee obligations for vaccinations and testing and availability of testing kits. The COVID-19 pandemic has already created and accelerated a host of challenges for the construction industry, including a skilled workforce shortage, rising material costs, supply chain disruptions and project and jobsite shut-downs. The forthcoming ETS only adds to this long list of concerns. Any rule that is developed by OSHA must be shaped in a way so as not to further disrupt the makeup of the construction workforce.
When the ETS is published in the federal register as an interim final rule, it will be effective immediately in states where OSHA has direct jurisdiction. The public will have an opportunity to submit comments on the ETS after it is published. The comments will then be used by OSHA to draft a final rule, which OSHA is expected to issue six months after the ETS is published in the federal register. ABC will submit comments to express any concerns.
ABC is philosophically opposed to federal mandates that undermine the desired policy outcome and plans to be fully engaged in the forthcoming OSHA ETS rule. ABC will also provide further details as soon as the COVID-19 vaccination and testing ETS is published in the federal register.
In addition to meeting with OMB, ABC, as a steering committee member of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, sent a letter to James Frederick, acting assistant secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, on Sept. 27, expressing its concerns about the forthcoming OSHA ETS.
On Sept. 24, ABC, as a steering committee member of the Coalition for Workplace Safety, also sent a letter to OSHA Acting Assistant Secretary James Frederick, stating that OSHA should consider questions and seek written input from stakeholders before issuing any ETS. To do otherwise invites avoidable implementation challenges and costs that would undermine achieving the goals of the ETS.
Additional resources on the OSHA ETS: