ABC, Safety Coalition caution OSHA on vaccination and testing standard

Source: Associated Builders and Contractors, Washington, D.C. 

In a letter to Occupational Safety and Health Administration Acting Assistant Secretary James Frederick, the Construction Industry Safety Coalition outlined concerns related to the agency’s forthcoming Covid-19 vaccination and testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which will apply to employers with payrolls of 100 or more per the White House’s Path Out of the Pandemic Action Plan.

As a CISC Steering Committee member, the Associated Builders & Contractors amplifies the concerns in a companion statement. “Because the Covid-19 vaccination and testing ETS is expected to be the most far-reaching standard ever issued by the agency, it is imperative that OSHA listen to input from the construction industry, which employs 7.4 million individuals,” says Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck. “Despite the efforts of a range of stakeholders, vaccine hesitancy remains an ongoing, complicated reality in countless industries. How the ETS is crafted will have significant, lasting impacts by driving workers away from larger firms and disrupting construction projects without raising the vaccination rate.

“Our key areas of concern are workforce shortages that would be exacerbated by the ETS, employer and employee obligations for vaccinations and testing, paperwork burdens, recordability of adverse reactions to the Covid-19 vaccine, cost of paid time off for vaccinations and adverse reactions, and availability of testing kits. The 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, jobsite shut-downs, additional health and safety protocols, and new government regulations. The forthcoming ETS only adds to this long list.”

“ABC continues to encourage construction industry stakeholders to implement effective Covid-19 safety plans and to get vaccinated, because ensuring healthy and safe work environments for employees is a top priority of ABC and its members,” Brubeck affirms. “ABC is philosophically opposed to federal mandates that undermine the desired policy outcome [and] plans to be fully engaged in the forthcoming OSHA ETS.”

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