U.S. Labor Department Warns 3 GOP States Over COVID Rules
Federal officials say that three Republican-led states — Arizona, South Carolina, and Utah — could potentially lose control over their workplace safety enforcement for refusing to implement rules to adequately protect health care workers from COVID-19. Their warning comes as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prepares to deploy stricter vaccination and testing rules affecting 80 million Americans. In 22 states, OSHA has yielded its authority to enforce workplace safety laws and regulations in exchange for the states adopting rules that are as effective or better than the federal regulations. These states include Arizona, South Carolina, and Utah. OSHA officials said they will take the first step toward revoking that authority, which all three states have had since the 1980s. At issue is a rule requiring personal protective equipment, social distancing, and other safety measures for workers at health care facilities that care for people with COVID-19. The rules also requires paid sick time for employees who contract COVID-19, need to get vaccinated, or are dealing with adverse effects from a COVID-19 vaccine. Jim Frederick, OSHA's acting assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, says: "The agency will not hesitate to use all of our resources to protect health care workers from known health hazards."
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