OSHA Vaccine Mandate Released, 84 Million Workers Face Jan. 4 Deadline
OSHA Vaccine Mandate Released, 84 Million Workers Face Jan. 4 Deadline

By Nick Ciolino

The Biden administration has released the new rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requiring 84 million private sector workers to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

The administration has also announced its rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Assistance (CMS) requiring 17 million health care workers participating in federal health programs to be vaccinated.

The White House is also pushing back the deadline for workers in those sectors, as well as federal contractors, to get fully vaccinated to Jan. 4, 2022, according to a senior administration official.

“We wanted to do this because we’re really aligning it to make it easier—to make it as easy as possible for businesses to implement these requirements and for workers to comply,” said the official, when asked about pushing back the deadline.

The Biden administration had received multiple letters from industries requesting the deadline for vaccination be moved back until after the holiday season.

The OSHA rule requires employers with 100 or more employees to put vaccine requirements in place for all staff, or face fines of up to $14,000 per violation. The agency is allowed to put into place an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) when it determines workers are at “grave risk.”

Under the rule, workers who are not vaccinated are required to submit a weekly negative COVID test at no expense to their employer. Unvaccinated workers are also required to wear masks when on the job. Health care workers do not have the testing option.

The ETS requires employers to determine and keep record of the vaccination status of each employee and report all COVID deaths and hospitalizations to OSHA.

The rule takes effect immediately upon publication, scheduled for Nov. 5, in the federal register.

White House officials say the new ETS is well within OSHA’s authority under the law and consistent with OSHA’s requirements to protect workers from health and safety hazards, including infectious diseases.

Officials claim there is well-established legal precedent for OSHA’s authority to evaluate existing scientific evidence and apply data to develop safety and health standards.

The ETS says it preempts state and local laws that ban or limit an employer from requiring vaccination, face covering, or testing.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Oct. 11 banning Texas businesses from requiring vaccines for employees, or customers.

And Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis filed suit Oct. 28 against the Biden Administration’s order requiring employees of federal contractors to be vaccinated.

Several Republican governors and attorneys general have vowed to fight the new OSHA rule in court.

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