For Immediate Release: November 4, 2021
Contact: Debra Coyle, 609.707.1320; firstname.lastname@example.org
New Jersey Work Environment Council Statement
on OSHA’s New Vaccine and Testing Standard
“Paid Time off for Vaccines is Good, but OSHA Misses the Mark
by Passing Costs on to Workers for Testing and Masks”
The following statement about the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) released today by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is from Debra Coyle, executive director of the New Jersey Work Environment Council (NJWEC).
“Vaccines are safe and effective, and we’re glad to see the new OSHA ETS requires paid time off for vaccines and recovery. We are concerned however, that these proposed rules do not require employers to pay for the costs of testing for unvaccinated workers, or for the cost of masks needed in the workplace. This is not how OSHA standards typically work, because employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace. We think it’s unwise and unfair to put this burden on workers, who have already paid enormous human and financial costs during this pandemic.
“Vaccines are just one piece of the puzzle we need to solve the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We still need to put in place the other puzzle pieces so that New Jersey workers are protected on the job. Since the very beginning of this public health crisis, WEC has presented weekly webinars, giving workers information about better ventilation, social distancing, shift rotation, paid sick leave and other measures that can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. We’re going to continue this effort and do all we can to support workers who want to stay safe.
“According to the NJ Department of Labor, more than 4,600 New Jersey businesses with more than 1.4 million workers will be affected by the ETS announced today by OSHA. The evidence shows that when employers communicate a vaccine requirement to their workers, vaccination rates go up substantially. We expect a similar result from this ETS, which means many more New Jersey workers will have increased protection from the potentially deadly impact of COVID-19.
“It’s important to keep in mind that the standard released today is a temporary one, in response to an ongoing public health emergency. Workers in New Jersey and across the country need a permanent OSHA standard on infectious disease, so we are prepared for the next pandemic.”
The New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC) is an alliance of labor, community, and environmental organizations working together for safe, secure jobs, and a healthy, sustainable environment. For more information, please visit NJWEC.org