Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety
IN THIS ISSUE: COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Workplace
On Saturday, June 12th, a federal court in Texas ruling upheld the right of private employers to require all of their employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The decision sets a precedent nationwide. The case arose from workers at Houston Methodist Hospital after 178 of them refused the hospital order to get the COVID-19 shots. They insisted that the vaccines are not proven to be safe. According to the ruling, workers do not have the right of refusal, other than for a religious issue or medical exemption.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that employers can legally require COVID-19 vaccination for employees to re-enter the workplace and can provide incentives to encourage employees to get vaccinated. OSHA, as of yet, has not issued a temporary standard for COVID-19, nor has it commented on a vaccine requirement. However, under the “general duty clause”, employers are required to provide a safe workplace, which includes assessing the risk of COVID-19 exposure and developing a plan to protect workers. Under OSHA regulation, this could include required vaccinations in lieu of current requirement to provide masks and respirators, physical distancing, and capacity limits in the workplace.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has stated that the COVID-19 vaccines approved in the U.S protect persons over 12 from becoming ill from exposure to the virus. Based on what is now known about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated may resume the activities that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic. This can be done without wearing a mask or physically distancing in most cases.
The number of adults who are vaccinated is still lagging and the daily amount of newly vaccinated persons is decreasing. Employers can ensure the health of their workforce while being a major resource in getting more people vaccinated to fully control the COVID-19 pandemic.
OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.
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