Court ends push for OSHA vaccine mandate

Cait Bunkers, guest writer

On January 24, a vaccinate-or-test mandate for workers was withdrawn.
“The gist of it was that the mandate didn’t meet the threshold for an imminent danger to the public that is required… The reason it didn’t meet that imminent danger threshold is because vaccinations are available, masking is available, and at that time the omicron variant was not as dangerous as previous variants, and the mandate would have been overly broad,” said Jennifer Bunkers, an attorney.
The mandate, set forth by the labor department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, would have required companies with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for its employees. If employees didn’t comply, they would have been required to take COVID-19 tests regularly.
The mandate also affected federal employees.
“The mandate only affected me because NAU takes money from the federal government… we fell under the federal 100% [of workers must be fully vaccinated] policy,” said Emma Weaver, a student worker at Northern Arizona University.
The Supreme Court blocked the rule with a six to three vote, saying that OSHA did not have the authority to put a mandate in place. It described the mandate as “a blunt instrument.”
While it may face continued legal challenges, OSHA may still attempt to create a vaccine-or-test standard through a rule making process. According to the New York Times, it could, for example, focus on high-hazard industries such as meat packing.