New guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) grant transportation construction contractors and other businesses the flexibility to adopt COVID-19 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,” ARTBA President & CEO David Bauer said in a statement.
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 potential 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.”