The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has offered new clarification on how a controversial vaccine mandate for large employers will affect truck drivers.

In new guidance issued this week, OSHA directly addresses whether the Biden administration’s vaccine and testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for large employers affects truck drivers.

The agency said that for most solo truck drivers, the vaccine mandate will not apply. Team drivers, however, do fall under the scope of the mandate.

From OSHA:

…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. Additionally, the requirements of the ETS do not apply to truck drivers who encounter other individuals exclusively in outdoor environments. On the other hand, the requirements of the ETS apply to truck drivers who work in teams (e.g., two people in a truck cab) or who must routinely enter buildings where other people are present.

At the behest of the Biden Administration, OSHA issued an Interim Final Rule in November 2021 requiring private sector employers with 100 or more employees to require workers to either show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing. Employers who fail to comply are subject to fines.

While the mandate went into effect on January 10, 2021, it faces numerous legal challenges and could be wiped out by the U.S. Supreme Court. OSHA has also stated that they do not plan to begin enforcement of the mandate until early February 2022.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) declared shortly after the Interim Final Rule was issued that solo truckers would almost certainly be exempt based on a statement from by U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who said, “If you’re a truck driver and you’re outside, you’re in a cab driving by yourself, this doesn’t impact you. If you’re a worker outside working in the area, this doesn’t impact you.”

The ATA previously stated that they believed that the vaccine mandate could force as many as 37% of truck drivers to leave the trucking industry entirely at a time when supply chain disruptions and industry labor issues are becoming an increasing point of concern.

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