Vaccine Mandate Update; ISSA Seeks Feedback on OSHA StandardDecember 3, 2021
There are a lot of moving parts related to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) COVID-19 vaccine and testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), as well as travel vaccine and testing requirements. Below, ISSA summarizes the latest state of play as of December 3 on each of these issues as they currently stand for the cleaning industry.
Comment Period of the Vaccine and Testing ETS
Representatives of companies with 100 or more employees now have an additional 45 days to comment on the ETS that requires their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing. OSHA extended the ETS comment period to January 19. This extension allows stakeholders additional time to review the ETS and collect information and data necessary for comment. Those who wish to submit comments may do so electronically here
ISSA also is requesting comments from its members regarding the potential impact of the ETS on their cleaning businesses to possibly share with federal regulators. Please provide your comments to ISSA Director of Government Affairs John Nothdurft by January 3.
ETS Legal Challenges
Based on the briefing schedule set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the earliest likely ruling on the ETS stay is December 10 (see more details on the briefing schedule here). Once a final decision is made by the Sixth Circuit, it will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could rule in a matter of days.
Federal Government Vaccine Mandate
The deadline for federal workers to be vaccinated or face suspension or firing was November 22. The administration reported this week that 97% of the federal workforce is currently vaccinated. In addition, the White House Office of Management and Budget is encouraging federal agencies to continue educating and counseling staff on the administration’s vaccine mandate until January 2022, and not proceed with any terminations before the end of the year.
Vaccines and Travel Restrictions
This week, the White House announced new actions against the Delta and Omicron variants that include stronger public health protocols for international travel and extending the face mask mandate in airports, on airplanes, trains, buses, and in transit stations. This mandate will now expire in mid-March, rather than allowing the requirement to expire on January 18 as planned. The White House also announced that fines will continue and be doubled for noncompliance with masking requirements–a minimum fine of US$500 and up to $3,000 for repeat offenders.
Additionally, starting next week, pre-departure testing protocols will change by requiring all inbound international travelers, regardless of their vaccination status or nationality, to receive a negative COVID-19 test result within one day of departure, rather than the 72 hours currently required for vaccinated travelers.
ISSA will continue to keep its members upraised on all of these COVID-19 workplace-related issues as they relate to the cleaning industry. For questions and/or comments regarding these issues, please contact John Nothdurft.
For more on the Omicron variant and its impact on the cleaning industry, tune into the latest segment of GBACtv BioTalk below.