Mr Walsh said the risks for most non-healthcare workers had decreased as cases decreased and vaccination rates increased. He also pointed out that Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month Vaccines’ recommendation that they generally not have to wear a mask indoors played a role in OSHA’s decision to forego a broader Covid-19 standard.
“OSHA has adjusted the rule to reflect the reality of the field, the success of the vaccine effort, and the latest guidance from C.D.C. reflects. and the changing nature of the pandemic, ”said Mr Walsh on the call.
David Michaels, an OSHA director during the Obama administration, said the C.D.C. Guidelines had made it difficult to enforce a broader OSHA rule. “In order to justify an emergency standard, OSHA must demonstrate that there is great danger,” said Dr. Michaels. “For this to happen, the C.D.C. should have clarified his recommendation and said that there is still a great danger for many workers. “
Without such clarification, said Dr. Michaels, now a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health, employer groups would likely have challenged any new OSHA rule in court, arguing that the C.D.C. Guidelines showed that a rule was unnecessary.
Dr. Michaels said the new standard was an overdue move, but that it was disappointing that no Covid-specific standard had been issued for industries such as meat packaging, corrections and retail. “If exposure is not controlled in these workplaces, they will continue to be major drivers of infection,” he said.
Jim Frederick, the acting head of OSHA, said in response to the call that even without the adoption of more comprehensive Covid rules through its so-called general mandatory clause, the agency had the authority to enforce protection for workers outside the health sector and that it would continue to do so You this.
He said that many meat packers along with other jobs under one OSHA program that takes a closer look at high-risk industries.