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COVID-19 has continued to cause stress within the construction industry and now that the vaccines are widely available, regulations regarding requirements for the vaccine continue to change. It was originally thought that contractors would require employees to get the vaccine in order to continue work but now many employers are moving from “required” to “recommended.” This is largely in part to OSHA’s (the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration) statement requiring any employer who is requiring the vaccine to record all symptoms for all employees and any adverse reaction to the vaccine would be categorized under a work-related injury.
While many contractors originally agreed with the guidance set in place by the Centers for Disease Control in regards to construction site safety, this new requirement will likely discourage employers from supporting their employees getting the vaccine as it adds an additional liability to the company.
It is important for contractors to stay up-to-date on all COVID-19 safety requirements and push back where they think things are being mishandled for their industry as a whole. While most employers are eager to continue work since the last year caused such turmoil within the industry and layoffs happened at an alarming rate, there is still a lot of hesitation on where we go from here. Associated General Contractors of America have contact OSHA in an effort to give more context as to how this new guidance can be burdensome for many contractors.
Clarification on the new guidance from OSHA is needed immediately in order for contractors to move forward with the right safety protocols and vaccine requirements moving forward. The safety of employees is most important to contractors but also understanding new guidelines and where the risks may lie is crucial.
As construction projects are well underway, it is clear that OSHA needs to reevaluate the new guidelines for the COVID-19 vaccine monitoring protocol – the end goal should be to protect both the employees and the employers.