Supreme Court Halts Vax-or Test ETS

Last week the Supreme Court stopped the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations ETS requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or test regularly and wear a mask on the job. However, the Court allowed the vaccine mandate for most healthcare workers to move forward.

In response, the U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh issued the following statement:

“I am disappointed in the court’s decision, which is a major setback to the health and safety of workers across the country. 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.

“OSHA promulgated the ETS under clear authority established by Congress to protect workers facing grave danger in the workplace, and COVID is without doubt such a danger. The emergency temporary standard is based on science and data that show the effectiveness of vaccines against the spread of coronavirus and the grave danger faced by unvaccinated workers. 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. OSHA will be evaluating all options to ensure workers are protected from this deadly virus.

“We urge all employers to require workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly to most effectively fight this deadly virus in the workplace. 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. 

“Regardless of the ultimate outcome of these proceedings, OSHA will do everything in its existing authority to hold businesses accountable for protecting workers, including under the Covid-19 National Emphasis Program and General Duty Clause.”

Employers that would have fallen under the ETS guidelines may discontinue their efforts though it is important to note that OSHA has stated in the past and in the statement above, that they will enforce the General Duty Clause requiring employers to maintain a workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to their employees. The Supreme Court ruling also does not limit employers’ ability to implement and/or continue their own vaccination and testing policies so long as the policies do not violate state law. Employers, absent an ETS, should continue best efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces for the health and safety of their employees and that of their business.

Call National Safety Consulting for help in putting together a COVID-19 Written Program and Plan for your business at 636-532-2999.