Biden Administration Forgoes Broad COVID-19 Safety Rules
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wind down, the White House announced it would not issue an emergency safety standard for COVID-19 that would apply to most workers, potentially skirting a campaign pledge. Instead, the administration and OSHA proposed a rule specifically for those in health care and health care settings.
“OSHA has tailored a rule that reflects the reality on the ground, the success of all government vaccination efforts, plus the latest guidance from the CDC on the changing nature of the pandemic,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told the House Education and Labor Committee at a June 9 hearing. Walsh continued to say that OSHA would be updating its safety guidance for workers in industries outside of health care, but it would not carry the threat of enforcement and fines. Some states including Virginia and California had already implemented such regulations on their own, but there has been no mandatory federal standard for COVID-19 safety to apply everywhere.
In the leadup to the 2020 election, the Biden campaign repeatedly criticized the Trump administration for relying on voluntary guidance for worker safety without a mandatory rule. Now, though, with over 151 million Americans, or 46% of the nation’s population fully vaccinated, the need for such a strict rule has dwindled.
As part of an ongoing coalition effort, ILTA continues to work with Conn Maciel Carey LLC to provide guidance both to OSHA and the wider Biden administration on the bulk liquid terminal industry’s shifting workplace safety needs due to the pandemic.