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OSHA threatens three states over COVID issues



United States Publication October 18, 2021

On October 19, federal OSHA announced that Arizona, Utah and South Carolina could lose their state-based authority to oversee workplace safety due to their failure to adopt by July 2, 2021 certain COVID-19 rules relating to healthcare facilities. These are three of the 22 federally-approved state OSHA programs which are required to follow at least federal regulations.

In making its threat, OSHA cites its June 2021 rule-making which requires the use of protective gear, face masks, social distancing, and other safety measures at healthcare facilities where COVID-19 positive patients are being treated. OSHA intends to publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing its proposal to revoke approval of the three states’ OSHA programs. There will be a 35-day period for comment before the proposal is finalized.

In response, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey stated the move is "nothing short of a political stunt and desperate power grab,” noting further that the state “is actively engaged in a public input process, encouraging Arizonans from every corner of the state to participate, and now the Biden administration is attempting to silence input from citizens and stakeholders alike.”

It is expected that all three states will pursue injunctive relief in court should the federal proposal materialize.

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