Emergency workplace guidelines to apply only to healthcare setting
Washington, D.C. – The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, applauds the decision this week by the Labor Department to drop its effort to implement burdensome and unnecessary emergency workplace COVID standards.
The rules, which have been under White House review since late April, had been expected to apply to all workplaces including supermarkets and create a regulatory and paperwork nightmare for independent grocers. But in the wake of intense industry pressure, the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) masking guidance, and significant progress against the pandemic, the idea of imposing a new restrictive mandate on businesses became a tenuous proposition.
“With the end of the pandemic in sight, any tightening of COVID safety rules this late in the game would present an unnecessary burden to independent community grocers who have been proactive in adopting safety measures since the start of this crisis,” said Chris Jones, NGA’s senior vice president of government relations and counsel. “Kudos to the Biden administration for this good-sense move as America’s businesses are trying to get back to normal.”
In May, NGA – along with its food industry partners – sent a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requesting the agency reject an OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) submitted by the Department of Labor. The letter followed NGA’s initial correspondence to OSHA and subsequent White House meetings attended by Jones at which he argued that an ETS is no longer needed given widespread vaccinations, declining case rates and the extraordinary steps grocers are already taking to protect their employees.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh had already delayed the release of the ETS in April after President Joe Biden issued an executive order setting a March 15 deadline for OSHA to decide whether a new standard was needed.
NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent grocery sector is accountable for close to one percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating $131 billion in sales, 944,000 jobs, $30 billion in wages and $27 billion in taxes. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers, state grocers associations, as well as manufacturers and service suppliers. For more information about NGA, visit www.nationalgrocers.org.