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While no longer mandated, OSHA “strongly encourages” vaccination of workers

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this month, the U.S Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has withdrawn its vaccination rule, which applies to businesses with at least 100 workers — while at the same time the federal agency encourages vaccination of workers against the danger posed by COVID-19 in the workplace.

OHSA, the health regulatory arm of the U.S Labor Department proposed the Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (EST) rule on COVID-19 last November and that also applied to large employers in American Samoa.

Under the OSHA mandate, businesses with at least 100 employees would have been required to adopt a mandatory vaccination policy unless they adopted a policy requiring unvaccinated workers to undergo weekly testing and wearing a face covering at work.

However, the Supreme Court on Jan. 13 stayed the Vaccination and Testing ETS, finding that challengers — plaintiffs in the case — were likely to prevail on their claims.

“After evaluating the Court’s decision, OSHA is withdrawing the Vaccination and Testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard,” the federal agency announced early last week.

In a separate statement, OHSA said the withdrawal become effective Jan. 26.

“Although OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule,” it says.

OHSA said it’s prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard and that “OSHA strongly encourages vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace.”

U.S Labor Secretary Marty Walsh voiced his disappointment with the Supreme Court decision and said in a national news release that OSHA “promulgated the ETS under clear authority established by Congress to protect workers facing grave danger in the workplace, and COVID is without doubt such a danger.”

But the Supreme Court majority decision says that OSHA “has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here.”

More information on the ETS on OSHA online [].