September 16, 2021

OSHA Rule to Require COVID-19 Vaccines or Testing for Workers of Larger Employers

OSHA will issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to implement a requirement for all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their workers are vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly, according to the White House website. The Biden administration expects the new rule to affect more than 80 million workers in the private sector. Through the ETS, larger employers will also be required to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated or to recover from any side effects post-vaccination.

OSHA’s new rule is expected to face challenges in court. Last week, attorneys and others interviewed by Bloomberg Law predicted that while “constitutional challenges to imposing vaccine mandates are likely to fail,” the rule “could be vulnerable to a legal attack based on workplace safety law.”

“Courts look at whether an emergency standard is necessary to protect workers from a ‘grave danger,’ though no law or regulation defines what level of hazard reaches that level,” the article explains.

President Biden has also issued a new executive order that requires COVID-19 vaccination for federal employees, with exceptions only as required by law. A second executive order seeks to ensure adequate COVID-19 safety protocols for federal contractors.

AIHA supports the workplace health and safety components of President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan. Information about AIHA’s recent efforts related to the pandemic is available in a press release published on Sept. 9.