Expanding Protections Against COVID-19 Improves Worker Safety
At the U.S. Department of Labor, we believe most workplace injuries and illnesses are entirely preventable. And employers have a legal responsibility to do what they can do to prevent workplace hazards from taking the lives of those just showing up to do their jobs. This includes taking measures to protect workers from COVID-19, which has killed nearly 745,000 people in the U.S. in under two years, and sickened millions more – sometimes with long-term health consequences.
That’s why OSHA announced that covered employers with 100 or more employees – firm or company-wide – must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose either to get vaccinated or to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work. Employers must also provide paid time for employees to get the vaccine and ensure workers have paid leave to recover from any side effects that keep them from working.
The single best way to protect an unvaccinated worker from the serious health consequences of a COVID-19 infection on the job is for that worker to be fully vaccinated. And the more workers who get vaccinated, the safer our workplaces will be.
We’ve already seen how employer vaccination requirements by state governments, large businesses, healthcare organizations, universities and more are working to bring case numbers down, help more people get back to work and stay healthy, and strengthen our economy.
The new requirements announced by OSHA will help build on that progress, and we’re providing clear guidance to employers so they can successfully implement the new standard. Workers with questions can learn more about their rights in this fact sheet.
A safe workplace isn’t a privilege, it’s every worker’s right. No one should ever be injured or contract a serious illness on the job. That’s my belief, and it’s the mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which works to ensure every worker returns home safe at the end of the day.
Jim Frederick is the deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. Follow OSHA on Twitter at @OSHA_DOL.