By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

ARTBA this week continued to warn that a broad, indiscriminate emergency temporary standard (ETS) for COVID-19 safety could unintentionally harm workers. Instead, measures that consider the specific characteristics of each industry – and their existing efforts at COVID prevention – provide better protection for workers.

“Universal requirements, such as mandating that all workers wear masks while at work could cause heat-related illnesses for transportation construction workers who labor in hot outdoor environments and are already socially distanced from one another,” ARTBA Senior Vice President of Safety and Education Bradley Sant said during a Feb. 12 virtual listening session hosted by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

He reminded OSHA that the transportation construction industry already follows several best practices for COVID prevention, such as working outdoors, keeping at least six feet apart, and remaining alone in closed equipment cabs.

His comments were similar to those in a Feb. 10 letter from ARTBA President & CEO Dave Bauer to James Frederick, the principal deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, as the Biden administration considers potential regulatory action in this area. Similarly, when organized labor interests sued OSHA last year to force imposition of a COVID-related ETS, ARTBA and industry allies filed a successful amicus brief opposing this “one-size-fits-all” approach.

President Joe Biden has directed OSHA to decide by March 15 whether a COVID-19 ETS is appropriate. ARTBA will continue to monitor the agency’s actions and keep its members informed of developments.

Visit ARTBA’s COVID-19 resources webpage for videos and information, or email Brad Sant with questions.