NSC Statement on OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard

With vaccines as the clear route toward the other side of the pandemic, we are pleased with the proposal today.

November 04, 2021

Itasca, Ill. – The National Safety Council views the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration today as a step in the right direction. Vaccines are the single most effective way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Since August 2021, NSC has actively called for employer COVID-19 vaccine requirements as the safest route to ensure worker safety, health and wellbeing is prioritized in the workplace. NSC has also advocated for a risk-based approach to vaccine requirements, which OSHA used to require vaccination among all healthcare workers. This approach could incorporate smaller businesses into this ETS as well. While they may not be included, we hope all at-risk organizations will implement vaccine requirements. 

“COVID-19 has devastated the American people and taken more than 725,000 lives in the U.S., many of which were preventable,” said Lorraine Martin, NSC president and CEO. “Government and private sector employers play an essential role in significantly, and positively, impacting the fight against this pandemic. NSC is no exception. That is why NSC chose to implement a requirement for its workers last month, to set an example and be a leader on this issue.”

It’s a fact that employer vaccine requirements work. In September, NSC released a report conducted as part of its SAFER initiative — a comprehensive effort aimed at helping employers prioritize workplace safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings from the SAFER report, “A Year in Review, and What’s Next: COVID-19 Employer Approaches and Worker Experiences,” showed that employer vaccine requirements increased worker vaccination rates by 35%. Thus, workplaces can achieve a level of community immunity if employers consistently and unanimously apply vaccine requirements to their entire workforce. According to the report, vaccine requirements are well-received by a majority of the U.S. workforce and by consumers who prefer to enter businesses where workers are vaccinated.

NSC met with government officials recently to share common employer questions, and we are pleased to see many points addressed in the ETS. The impact of COVID-19 on our families, communities and workplaces has been immense. With vaccines as the clear route toward the other side of the pandemic, we are pleased with the proposal today.

For employers that are not impacted by the ETS, such as small businesses with fewer than 100 employees, there are options on how to properly implement a vaccine requirement. NSC, in partnership with Health Action Alliance, has developed a decision tool for business leaders that provides specific guidance and addresses key questions and considerations for workplace vaccine requirements. 

For additional workplace vaccine-related information and resources such as reports, playbooks, webinars and surveys, visit nsc.org/safer.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate – and has been for over 100 years. As a mission-based organization, we work to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing our efforts on the workplace, roadway and impairment. We create a culture of safety to not only keep people safer at work, but also beyond the workplace so they can live their fullest lives.

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