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OSHA excludes construction industry from emergency COVID-19 safety rules

Construction trade groups are praising the Biden Administration’s decision to exclude the construction industry from new safety rules related to COVID-19.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an Emergency Temporary Standard, or ETS, on Thursday specifically for the health-care industry. In it step, OSHA lays out rules employers will now be required to follow to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19. Some construction groups had feared the ETS would be made to apply to construction workers. Instead, the emergency rule is only for health-care workers.

Various trade groups expressed relief on Friday.

“OSHA made the right decision to issue an ETS to cover tasks associated with high-exposure risk levels and not construction operations, which are generally low risk,” according to a statement from the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, which is made up of 30 trade groups, including the Associated General Contractors of America and the Associated Builders and Contractors.

Instead of issuing an ETS for the construction industry, OSHA has been revising a set of guidelines using an online Q&A page. In April, for instance, OSHA suggested contractors record every instance when an employee experiences an adverse reaction to the coronavirus vaccine. OSHA, however, reversed course on that rule in late May, saying contractors no longer should be using their OSHA 300 log to report adverse side-effects to the vaccine. OSHA now plans to re-evaluate that reversal in May 2022.

About Nate Beck, nbeck@dailyreporter.com

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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