NAHB Shares Concerns About Vaccine Mandates with Rulemaking Officials

Filed in Advocacy, Disaster Response by on October 27, 2021 10 Comments

COVID-19 vaccine mandatesNAHB staff last week shared their concerns with government officials in two separate calls about an impending emergency temporary standard (ETS) from OSHA that would force companies with more than 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for their workers or conduct onerous weekly testing of workers who remain unvaccinated.

OSHA is in the process of writing an ETS in response to a directive from President Joe Biden that all employees with 100+ employees require vaccination among their workers.

In a call with the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), NAHB said that home builders support “the President’s goal of increasing vaccinations among the population and has undertaken numerous efforts to increase worker awareness of and access to vaccines.”

But NAHB noted that the residential construction industry is at a very low risk for COVID-19 transmission. Most work is performed outdoors, and the nature of indoor tasks allow workers to remain at least six feet apart. Moreover, home building involves little contact with the public, visitors or customers during construction.

According to OSHA’s own assessment of COVID transmission risk, construction work is considered a “high exposure risk” occupation only in rare and specific circumstances, such as when work is being done indoors with persons suspected or known to have COVID-19. In fact, the construction industry was excluded from the June ETS from OSHA on COVID-19 workplace safety.

NAHB also noted the voluntary industrywide campaigns in the construction industry to encourage vaccinations, such as Vaccine Awareness Week in Construction, and the resources still available to members to find vaccines in their area.

In a separate call with OIRA last week, NAHB and its partners in the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) questioned the legal authority of OSHA to issue an ETS that requires vaccine mandates for workers. Staff noted that an ETS is permitted only upon showing there is a “grave danger” from exposure to a hazard in the workplace and the ETS is immediately needed to address the hazard. OSHA cannot make this showing in the construction industry.

If a vaccine mandate ETS is issued, the CISC noted there are many unanswered questions on implementation and requirements placed on businesses. Will adverse vaccine reactions, common in many adults 12-36 hours after injection, be a recordable event under current OSHA guidelines? What if the employee misses work? What should companies do about the lack of availability of testing kits for private businesses to test employees who are unvaccinated?

The CISC also took issue with the process OSHA has used to draft the vaccine ETS. OSHA never sought even informal feedback from private stakeholders. OSHA typically conducts listening sessions and stakeholder meetings while promulgating rules. And nearly all rules have public comment periods. But this was not the case with this ETS.

NAHB and CISC asked that the construction industry be exempt from the final ETS and that OSHA open the rulemaking to formal public comment. NAHB and CISC are part of a growing chorus of calls from private business to slow down the ETS process to avoid mass walkouts around the holiday season and further disrupt an already-strained supply chain system.

Staff from OIRA and OSHA did listen to NAHB and CISC concerns on the call, but little is known about how those concerns will be considered in the writing of the rule.

NAHB will remain engaged on this issue.

For questions about OSHA processes, please contact Rob Matuga.

Comments (10)

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  1. Richard Eugene Capps says:

    Bravo…All the points raised are valid and should be considered before ANY mandate is issued. One question that was not raised is, “What’s next!” IF this mandate is ok…what’s next.

  2. Tim Palmer says:

    “adverse reactions common in adults 12-36 hours after injection”

    Please get your facts straight. They are in no way “common”.

    • NAHB Now says:

      Tim, we are referring to the side effects, mostly mild, that are commonly reported shortly after getting the vaccine. For the purposes of this proposal, we would like to know if this is reportable, as some workers may take a day off due to the effects.

  3. Stacy says:

    A day or two off with mild symptoms is better that 2 or 3 weeks of having full blown COVID, and you’ll have a better chance of not spreading it to all your co workers.

  4. Virge Temme says:

    I do not at all agree that construction workers are considered low-risk. Since Covid hit our small community, the employees of three entire concrete companies lost 10+ days to the virus, and one of the employees died of it; three plumbers were affected and had to quarantine; the entire design staff of one of our cabinet companies had to quarantine because Covid was rampant in the schools that some of the design staff children attended. The General Contractor of one of our largest construction companies contracted Covid and was in bed for over a week with high temps, and his entire family also came down with the virus.
    I ultimately required anyone working on my projects to mask up if there were others in the building. These are intelligent contractors and agreed this was keeping all of us safer.

    The vaccine is safe and effective. The U.S. government in the past has mandate smallpox vaccines, polio, rubella, etc., and there was never the outcry that this Covid vaccine or the accompanying masks has caused. This outcry is purely politically motivated, and needs to stop.

  5. Amanda Heath says:

    This is a personal decision and should not be mandated. Our own health care should not be regulated or mandated by any one other than self.

  6. Greg says:

    OSHA reporting is one thing. There are also potential workers compensation issues. If vaccines are mandated and a worker has a side effect, even if mostly mild, would that need to be reported to W/C insurance carriers as an on the job injury if the worker took one or two days off shortly after getting the vaccine?

  7. Jan Strama says:

    It’s unconstitutional to force people to put something into their body that they are not in favor of. I say No to mandates and yes to personal freedom. If you want to vaccinate yourself – that is your right. If not – that too is your right. Truthfully at this point – most people have already had Covid and in turn, have natural immunity which is better than any of the vaccines.

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