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Supreme Court ruling blocks OSHA vaccine mandate

By |  January 14, 2022

Logo: OSHA

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 vaccine mandate in a Jan. 13 ruling, noting that although the virus is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most.

The Supreme Court, however, upheld the OSHA mandate for health care workers.

“Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life – simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock – would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization,” reads the Supreme Court ruling.

Last September, President Biden detailed his plans for the Department of Labor to issue an emergency rule requiring all employers with at least 100 employees to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative test at least once a week. OSHA, a Department of Labor agency, published its emergency temporary standard Nov. 5 to phase in COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employers with 100 or more employees.

The president, upon receiving the news about the Supreme Court decision, offered reaction.

“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense, life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law,” Biden says in a written statement. “This emergency standard allowed employers to require vaccinations or to permit workers to refuse to be vaccinated, so long as they were tested once a week and wore a mask at work: a very modest burden.”

Biden adds that it is now up to the states and individual employers to determine how to proceed with COVID-19 vaccines.

“The court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as president to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans’ health and economy,” Biden says. “I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one-third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers and communities.”

Labor secretary Marty Walsh issued similar remarks following the Supreme Court ruling.

OSHA stands by the vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard as the best way to protect the nation’s workforce from a deadly virus that is infecting more than 750,000 Americans each day and has taken the lives of nearly a million Americans,” Walsh says in a written statement.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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