South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has called the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) recent threat this week to rescind the state’s workplace safety plan a “preemptive strike by the federal government.”
“With no state regulators in the way, the federal Labor Department will be free to penalize employers who do not comply with President [Joe] Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate,” McMaster said on Twitter.
According to OSHA, three Republican-led states—South Carolina, Utah, and Arizona—have not adopted its COVID-19 health care policies enacted in June, which includes providing employees with personal protective equipment.
There are 22 state OSHA-approved workplace safety and health program plans operated by individual states or U.S. Territories that are monitored by OSHA.
In September, Biden announced that he had directed the Department of Labor to develop a rule requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated.
OSHA, which falls under the Department of Labor, began a 35-day comment period during which the states can respond before OSHA usurps the states’ policies.
A spokesperson for the Department of Labor said that the additional health care standards are designed to protect workers from coronavirus hazards.
According to the Department of Labor, South Carolina receives more than $2.3 million through its state OSHA plan to administer and enforce it.
McMaster said he has tasked Labor Licensing Regulation Director Emily Farr with “immediate preparations for a vigorous and lengthy legal fight.”
“We are disappointed that federal OSHA has decided to take this step against our very successful state OSHA program,” Farr said.
Both Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox rebuked OSHA’s threat.
“The federal government’s threat to strip ICA (Industrial Commission of Arizona’s OSHA) of its OSHA authority is nothing short of a political stunt and a desperate power grab,” Ducey said in a statement, adding that the Biden administration “is attempting to silence input from citizen’s and stakeholders alike. We won’t allow it without a fight.”
Cox said he “rejects the assertion” that Utah’s plan is “less effective than the federal plan.”
“While we have not refused to adopt standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, we will ask once again for an opportunity to engage with the Biden administration about our legitimate concerns complying with the proposed Healthcare ETS (Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standards),” Cox said, adding that the federal standards “place an unfair burden on the healthcare industry.”