By Nick Goldstein, ARTBA vice president of regulatory and legal issues

Less than two weeks after telling a federal court to reject an attempt by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to require the federal government to impose a single, emergency standard for coping with COVID-19, ARTBA came away with another federal court victory for the transportation construction industry.

Holding that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is entitled to “considerable deference” in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit June 11 turned away the AFL-CIO’s request for OSHA to implement within 30 days a universal “emergency temporary standard” for infectious diseases which would cover all employees and all industries in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

ARTBA, urged the court not to grant the request because workers are better protected from the virus by construction industry best practices rather than a rigid “one-size-fits-all” regulation.  In their brief, ARTBA and other industry groups detailed why a uniform standard is misguided, explaining that “guidance on how to maintain the spread of COVID-19 in the aviation industry would naturally be quite different from guidance directed at the banking industry, or the construction industry.”

The court agreed, stating “[i]n light of the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the regulatory tools that the OSHA has at its disposal to ensure that employers are maintaining hazard-free work environments…the OSHA reasonably determined that an [emergency standard] is not necessary at this time.”

It is not known at this time if the AFL-CIO will appeal the court’s decision.