Immediately following the issuance of the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring tens of millions of workers to be vaccinated against Covid 19, Secretary of Labor Matt Walsh sowed confusion by claiming that most truck drivers will be exempted from it.
“The ironic thing is most truckers are not covered by this, because they’re driving a truck, they’re in a cab, they’re by themselves, they wouldn’t be covered by this.,” Walsh declared in a television interview he gave the day the ETS was announced.
He could very well be right – or he could be very wrong. Clarifications definitely will be needed and at this point you can expect such guidances will be forthcoming in following days and weeks.
Walsh appears to be basing his interpretation on the vaccine mandate exclusion for those who work out of doors or remotely, and who are not in contact with other people while they do their jobs. This applies to truck drivers do not interact with others at their point of departure or destinations, he said.
One glaring problem, of course, is that it is quite rare for truck drivers not to interact with others while they are working, and at origin or destination.
Another issue left undiscussed is the jurisdictional dividing line between OSHA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In the past, OSHA’s jurisdiction has been seen ending at the cab door.
American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear welcomed Walsh’s statement but said the industry but continues to be unhappy with the OSHA mandate and wants to see it reversed.
“We continue to believe OSHA is using extraordinary authority unwisely, applying it across all industries at an arbitrary threshold of 100 employees that fails to factor in actual risks,” Spear pointed out.
“We are weighing all options of recourse to ensure every segment of our industry’s workforce is shielded from the unintended consequences of this misguided mandate.”