Jun 11, 2021
OSHA COVID Safety Rules Give Workplace Flexibility to Transportation Construction Firms, ARTBA Says
New guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) grant transportation construction contractors and other businesses the flexibility to adopt COVID safety protocols that fit their specific workplaces, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).
“Today’s OSHA announcement is a well-reasoned approach that will let the transportation construction industry continue to provide safety protections tailored to its workers as they build our roads and keep our country moving during the COVID pandemic,” said ARTBA President and CEO David Bauer.
OSHA announced June 10 a new Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) aimed at protecting workers from COVID-19 that applies only to the health care industry. For other sectors such as road and bridge construction, the agency updated existing guidance, enabling those sectors to continue best practices designed specifically for transportation workers.
Transportation construction workers primarily work outdoors in all kinds of weather. The new rules allow for relaxed requirements related to face coverings and other health protocols for workers who are fully vaccinated.
OSHA’s decision not to create a nationwide ETS applying to all industries acknowledges the drawbacks of a “one size fits all” approach to new COVID regulations. In a series of meetings and letters since December, ARTBA has urged incoming Biden Administration officials to “consider the specific attributes and existing safety protocols of particular industries, with the objective of not undermining those protections to the detriment of their workers.”
Several other organizations have also expressed their support for the exemption.
“We appreciate the administration’s review and thorough decision making to exclude the aggregates industry from the COVID-19 ETS,” said Michele Stanley, National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) vice president of government and regulatory affairs. “This is a positive recognition of the steps already taken by our member companies.”
“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,” said the Construction Industry Safety Coalition. CISC is comprised of 30 trade associations representing virtually every aspect of the construction industry. “At the outset of the pandemic, the coalition developed an industry-wide COVID-19 Exposure Prevention Preparedness and Response Plan to provide a comprehensive approach to keeping construction workers, deemed to be essential, safe. We look forward to continuing to provide input on industry safety issues and working with the administration on other workplace safety and health priorities.”