Walsh pauses at ETS as the political will for the new COVID-19 rules dwindles


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Dive summary: After exceeding the presidential deadline of March 15, the creation of an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 has now been put on hold by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, as the urgency for its issuance drops between increased vaccination numbers and political will and its implementation has diminished, according to media reports and analyzes. The experts. Walsh asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which has been mandated to consider whether ETS is necessary in an executive order from President Joe Biden in January, to suspend the process so that relevant materials can be updated “to reflect the latest scientific analysis of a case.” Disease, “according to a Bloomberg article Low. Walsh ordered the update based on analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the latest information on vaccine status and coronavirus variants, according to the article. Experts say the legal barrier to releasing ETS has been lifted as the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths drop in the United States, vaccinations have increased, with a third of the population receiving at least one injection as of April 7. “In order for ETS to be issued, there has to be grave risk to employees,” Gabriel Siegel, partner at Chicago-based legal firm Jenner & Block, told Construction Dive. “But the evidence of risk is changing. Vaccines change the facts surrounding ETS.” Dive Insight: Labor advocacy groups responded to the news quickly. “Workers cannot wait,” Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, said in a statement. “We know that workers still face the risk of contracting COVID-19 infection in their workplaces, and we know that this infection can spread to neighborhoods, families and communities.” The ETS version, which will provide one minimum standard for employers to follow in protecting employees from COVID-19 at work, has been the subject of debate since early in the pandemic. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) refused to issue ETS during the Trump administration, even as labor groups sued them for doing so to no avail. Employers said ETS is not necessary, as they are already following CDC guidelines on mitigating COVID-19, although some have complained that various state requirements have cost them money by having to comply with patching rules . Now, with Walsh holding the position of Minister of Labor for only two weeks, it may be running out of time for ETS to be put in place. “That’s not the kind of thing you’d necessarily want the Acting Secretary to issue,” says Siegel, who wrote a recent Law360 article about ETS hurdles. At the same time, the rationale presented to halt ETS development has made experts question whether it has become a moot point. “The focus on the state of illness indicates that Secretary Walsh and his team at OSHA understand that there is no longer an emergency due to the rate of vaccinations across the country and that many US residents will be vaccinated within months,” wrote James Sullivan, co-chair of safety practice at OSHA’s workplace at the Philadelphia-based law firm Cozen O’Connor, in a post on the JD Supra legal knowledge base website. “This possibility represents a major obstacle to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.” At the same time, now may not be the right moment for the Biden administration to push for more workplace rules, as it tries to sell the $ 2 trillion US jobs plan to companies across the United States. Addressing the political climate with this controversy over ETS that the Biden administration may not want to address at the moment. ”Especially if they are looking for support from employers, such as those in the construction industry, for an infrastructure plan, for example.”


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