As part of President Joe Biden's COVID-19 plan, OSHA is developing a rule that will obligate all employers with 100 or more employees to require vaccination or weekly testing.
According to the White House, this requirement will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses with 100+ employees.
The new mandate will be levied and enforced through a new emergency temporary standard from OSHA in 6-8 weeks, according to NAHB.
OSHA’s authority allows the agency to immediately enact a rule if “workers are in grave danger due to exposure to toxic substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards,” NAHB pointed out.
The new OSHA mandate, which will apply to all private companies with more than 100 employees, does allow for weekly testing in lieu of vaccination. Specifically, unvaccinated workers must produce a negative test each week to be allowed onto a worksite.
The OSHA emergency temporary standard will require employers to give paid time off to workers for their vaccinations and to recover from vaccination side effects.
OSHA will enforce the mandate with inspections and can levy fines up to $13,653 per violation, OSHA’s maximum penalty, NAHB said, although it is unclear whether that applies to each site or employee.
NAHB said there are still many unanswered questions about the ETS.
According to NAHB, OSHA last week could not answer specific questions from industry stakeholders, including:
- Who pays for testing?
- How will employers verify vaccinations and test results?
- How do companies handle employees who refuse to vaccinate or test?
The vast majority of home builders in the United States have fewer than 100 employees, so the mandate should not directly affect most NAHB members, the association noted.
But the extension of strong federal workforce rules to contractors could be problematic down the road, as much of the home building industry is run on contracted relationships, NAHB said.
NAHB said its members should remain flexible and ready to act when the ETS is issued and be prepared for change even after the rule is in place.
For any questions about COVID-19 vaccines or finding a vaccination center, see the resources compiled by NAHB for Vaccine Awareness Week held in April.