OSHA Issues Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19 Vaccinations or Testing

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The U.S. Department of Labor this morning published the details of an emergency temporary standard (ETS) developed by OSHA that will require all businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccinations for their workers or weekly COVID-19 tests to attend work.

While the full text of the standard has not yet been published to the Federal Register, OSHA did make available preview text. It appears that the construction industry is not exempt from the ETS, as it was in the ETS issued in June thanks to the efforts of NAHB staff. Despite those efforts continuing with the vaccine and testing ETS, construction is covered.

There are, however, exemptions in the rule that may narrowly apply to residential construction: 1) workers who do not report to a workplace where other individuals are present or who telework from home; and 2) workers who perform their work exclusively outdoors.

The ETS also contains language specific to the construction industry for determining which workers are covered by an employer:

"On a typical multi-employer worksite such as a construction site, each company represented – the host employer, the general contractor, and each subcontractor – would only need to count its own employees, and the host employer and general contractor would not need to count the total number of workers at each site."

Broadly, any employer with more than 100 employees will be required to mandate a COVID-19 vaccination for their workers. Employers must provide paid time off for workers to receive the vaccinations and to recover from any side effects from the vaccines. Unvaccinated workers have the option of providing a weekly negative COVID-19 test.

The responsibility for the testing will fall on employees rather than employers. In addition, unvaccinated workers must wear masks at all times while indoors at work or while in a vehicle with others for work purposes.

The rule will become effective when it is published to the Federal Register, most likely on Nov. 5. 

The deadline for companies to comply with most of the provisions of the ETS is Jan. 4, 2022.

NAHB will carefully review the final language of the ETS once it is published to the Federal Register and will explore all options available on behalf of members. Watch NAHBNow and email communications from NAHB for updates.

For resources on vaccinations, including links on where to find available doses, visit the NAHB Vaccine Awareness Week in Construction webpage.

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