- Daily Zen
The court said that OSHA is limited by law to addressing workplace hazards, while COVID-19 exists everywhere.
The stay was imposed by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals on November 6, just a day after it was published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
It blocked the administration from imposing any mandatory masks, testing and vaccination rules for large employers. The court said that OSHA is limited by law to addressing workplace hazards, while COVID-19 exists everywhere.
The emergency filing against the law said that the “Congress charged OSHA with addressing grave dangers in the workplace, without any carve-out for viruses or dangers that also happen to exist outside the workplace.”
Nearly 30 lawsuits were filed nationwide over the OSHA rules and are now being fought as a single case in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati.
The stay was also wrongly imposed say the protesting bodies because the companies and states seeking the hold can’t show that “their claimed injuries outweigh the interest in protecting employees from a dangerous virus while this litigation proceeds.”
The claims of injury “are speculative and depend heavily on minor compliance costs or predictions about how employees may respond that are at odds with empirical evidence addressed by the agency,” it said.
The OSHA rule requires businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure that the workforce is fully vaccinated or conduct a weekly test for those that are not fully vaccinated and require that they wear a mask in the office premises.
The mask requirement for unvaccinated employees was not scheduled to take effect until Dec. 5, and the vaccination requirement would not come into play until Jan. 4.
The case is set to go to a full federal appeals court. Several companies and groups opposed to the rule, joined by 27 Republican-led states, are asking for the issue to go directly to the full appeals court, bypassing any panel.
“The answer will affect the personal health decisions of tens of millions of Americans, coast to coast,” the states said in their court filing. “It will determine whether private companies — many of which are still struggling to survive the economic carnage inflicted by COVID-19 — must invest resources helping the federal government run a mass-vaccination program.”
The administration said in its filing that if the ruling remained, it should at least be modified to allow the masking-and-testing requirement.
The administration added that a modified stay would shield employers from state and local laws banning vaccine and mask mandates.
ACCORDING TO JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY DATA, the U.S. is reporting about 95,000 new infections daily on average, an increase of 14% compared to the week prior. More than 1,100 people die a day from the virus in the US on average, according to the Hopkins data.
Some states are again reporting an increase in the number of hospitals admissions due to COVID-19. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 50,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of almost 6 percent from last week.