Lauren Moye, FISM NEWS
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released new rules today that will require vaccination compliance for larger businesses shortly after the new year. This is a follow-up to the Biden’s vaccine mandates, which he announced on Sept. 9, that are expected to impact 84 million American laborers in the private workforce.
The official rules will require that private businesses with 100 or more employees will need to ensure their staff is fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2021. This means that employees must have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna varieties.
Employers who do not comply with the new rules may face fines that begin around the $14,000 mark per violation. The actual penalties will be based on an increasing scale that considers previous violations and the size of the business. Fines may go as high as $136,532 per violation.
The OSHA rules will allow for a medical or religious exemption. Businesses that enforce a weekly negative Covid-19 test for unvaccinated employees will also be exempt from fines.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said in a joint USA Today opinion piece, “American workers deserve and expect a safe and healthy workplace. That’s why Thursday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a rule that will protect workers from the grave danger posed by COVID-19.”
Walsh and Zients referenced executive orders President Joe Biden issued on Sept. 9 requiring all federal employees and federal contractors to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8. The deadline for contractors has been postponed to coincide with the deadline in the new year.
In the same speech, Biden also announced the expansion of a previous requirement to require all “hospitals, home healthcare facilities, or other medical facilities” to comply with a vaccination requirement. Biden promised on that day that a similar mandate would be placed on private businesses.
At the time, Biden blamed Republican politicians for the plateau in vaccination rates, which the CDC places currently at 80% of all U.S. adults. At the time Biden voiced his frustration with those who were not vaccinated saying, “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.”
Under the new rules, healthcare facilities are not eligible to take negative weekly COVID tests in place of vaccinations from their employees. Facilities that do not comply risk being removed from Medicaid or Medicare, although officials say this will not be the first step taken to bring a facility into compliance.
One White House official cited “a higher bar for health care workers” to protect the health of their patients. He told the press, “And so it’s either vaccination or an exemption.”
In addition, OSHA’s rules require that businesses comply with certain rules by Dec. 5, including offering paid time off for employees to receive vaccinations and providing masks for all unvaccinated workers. There is no requirement that businesses cover the cost of COVID tests for employees.
OSHA had recently suspended a requirement for employers to report any vaccination side effects, in an effort to “encourage mandate compliance.”
The White House anticipates court challenges to their rules, but anonymous officials are adamant that OSHA is well within its rites. One official said in a press call that the rules “preempts states and political subdivisions of states from adopting and enforcing workplace requirements relating to these issues except under the authority of a federally approved state plan.”
The same official stated that “the OSHA act provides that OSHA standards preempt any state occupational safety or health standard ‘relating to the same occupational safety or health issue’ as the federal OSHA standard.”