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New Vax Requirement for Private Sector Workers a “Missed Opportunity”

Thursday, September 9, 2021
Press Contacts: 

Melissa Moriarty, melissa@nationalcosh.org

603-505-7135

New Vax Requirement for Private Sector Workers

a “Missed Opportunity,” says National COSH

Vaccines are one piece -- but not the only piece -- of broad effort

needed to prevent spread of COVID-19 in U.S. workplaces 

 

LOS ANGELES -- The new vaccine mandate for private sector workers announced today by the Biden Administration is a “missed opportunity” for a broad, comprehensive effort needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, say leaders of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). 

“COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, but they are only one piece of a broad effort needed to keep workers safe,” said Jessica E. Martinez, co-executive director of National COSH.  “The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 requires a comprehensive approach to protect all workers.”

“Sadly, this is a missed opportunity,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, also a co-executive director of National COSH. “In health care workplaces, employers are required to have a COVID prevention plan in place and to consult with workers. Why not all workplaces?”

“Health care workers are not the only workers at risk from this deadly pandemic,” said Goldstein-Gelb. “Grocery workers, meatpacking workers, postal workers, teachers, transit workers and many others have also become sick and died after exposure to COVID-19.  All workers deserve a voice in how to make their workplaces safer.”

Social distancing, improved ventilation, shift rotation, and protective equipment to reduce exposure are important components of an overall plan to reduce risk and stop the virus. These tools are missing from the new steps President Biden announced today,” added Martinez.

President Biden announced today that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a new Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). It will require that all private sector employers with more than 100 workers take steps to ensure that workers are vaccinated, or present documentation of a negative COVID-19 test at least once a week. A previous ETS, covering only health care workplaces, took effect in July of this year. 

“We’ll be watching closely as this new ETS is developed and implemented,” said Martinez. “Workers must be included at every step of the process. Paid time off to get a vaccine, get a test, or to recover from COVID-19 is extremely important.  And it’s essential that workers be strongly protected from any illegal retaliation when raising safety concerns about their workplaces.”


National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace.For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org. Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, @NationalCOSH on Twitter and @NationalCOSH on Instagram.