Will truck drivers have to comply with OSHA’s COVID-19 vaccination emergency temporary standard (ETS) if the U.S. Supreme Court lets it stand? According to new guidance from the agency, yes except under very specific circumstances.
There is no specific exemption for truck drivers in OSHA’s COVID-19 vaccination ETS, so employers with 100 or more employees who have truck drivers as part of their operations would still have to ensure their drivers follow the standard’s requirements.
However, the ETS does state that in situations where the standard applies to a particular employer, the requirements wouldn’t apply to employees “who do not report to a workplace where other individuals such as coworkers or customers are present” or employees “who work exclusively outdoors.”
That means “the requirements of the ETS do not apply to truck drivers who do not occupy vehicles with other individuals as part of their work duties” or “to truck drivers who encounter other individuals exclusively in outdoor environments,” according to new guidance from OSHA.
Driving in teams? Requirements still apply
The ETS does apply to truck drivers who work in teams with two people occupying the same cab as well as those who must routinely enter buildings where other people are present.
One caveat to that rule is in situations of “de minimis,” or trivial, use of indoor spaces where others may be present.
Such situations don’t prevent an employee from being covered by the exemption if:
- the time spent indoors is brief, or
- occurs exclusively in the employee’s home, during a lunch break for example.
OSHA states it “will look at cumulative time spent indoors to determine whether that time is de minimis.”
Keep in mind that even if the ETS doesn’t apply to specific truck drivers under such circumstances, those same truck drivers would still be counted as employees for purposes of the 100-employee threshold for coverage.