OSHA Withdraws Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Businesses

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Updated Feb 1, 2022
OSHA withdraws vaccine or test mandate for businesses
OSHA withdraws its vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has withdrawn its emergency temporary standard that called for a vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses with 100 or more employees.

The withdrawal follows the U.S. Supreme Court issuing a stay January 13 to block the standard from taking effect. The court did not outright strike down the standard but sent it back to an Appeals Court to debate its legal merits. However, a majority of justices said OSHA overstepped its authority in requiring that employees either get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and wear face masks at companies with 100 or more workers.

Various trade, business and political groups and state governments were prepared to continue to fight against the mandate in court. Today’s withdrawal by OSHA kills the emergency temporary standard, effective January 26, that the agency was prepared to enforce.

In its statement today, however, OSHA said it was not withdrawing the emergency temporary standard as a proposed rule and is “prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.”

Although, the court stayed the standard for private employers it left intact a similar mandate for healthcare workers at facilities that receive federal funding. There is also a vaccine-or-test mandate for federal contractors that has been blocked and is working its way through the courts.

The Associated General Contractors, which has fought the emergency temporary standard in court, said the withdrawal will help larger construction companies retain employees who might have quit to join smaller firms that were not subject to the standard.

“The Biden administration is right to abandon its misguided vaccine emergency rule and we encourage them to do the same with a similar measure affecting federal contractors that we are also challenging in court,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “At the same time, we will continue to work with the administration to ensure its planned permanent vaccine rule applies only to workers in industries like healthcare that OSHA deems at high risk from the coronavirus.”

It remains uncertain what OSHA’s final Covid-19 health rule will be as it takes comments on the proposal.

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association has also opposed the emergency temporary standard in court and has urged OSHA to withdraw it. It has also been concerned that the standard could be expanded to all private employers regardless of company size. ARTBA also plans to keep an eye on OSHA’s rule-making process.

{Related Content: Supreme Court Blocks Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Businesses}