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National Safety Council calls on all employers to require employee COVID-19 vaccinations

The National Safety Council (NSC), the nation’s leading workplace safety advocate, urged all employers to implement a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for their workers and unveiled a guide outlining four levels of requirements for various workplace risk profiles.

COVID-19 vaccines are the clearest route to ensuring worker safety and wellbeing is prioritized in the workplace. A recent survey conducted by NSC found when employers required vaccines, there was a 35% increase in workers who got the shot. Additional information about encouraging vaccine uptake, addressing vaccine hesitancy and testing in the workplace will be released as part of the Council’s SAFER effort next month.

“The data is clear: workplace requirements are a proven way to encourage vaccine uptake and accelerate the country’s path to community immunity against COVID-19,” said Lorraine Martin, NSC President and CEO. “Consistent with our mission, we’re calling on employers to advance the nation’s progress on living safely with this virus by requiring vaccines in a manner that’s appropriate for their workers’ risk profile.”

To aid employers in their vaccination efforts, NSC issued guidance outlining a spectrum of vaccine requirement approaches and considerations for implementation in varying work settings. Requirements include:

  • Honor System – Requiring workers to be vaccinated to return to work or to loosen mask mandates without requiring proof of vaccination status.
  • Partial Requirement – Requiring workers to either show proof of vaccination status or submit to frequent COVID-19 testing.
  • Soft Requirement – Requiring workers to show proof of vaccination status before returning to certain job functions or to enter a non-remote workplace.
  • Hard Requirement – Requiring all workers to show proof of vaccination status to do their work.

This guidance follows the recent formal FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The widely anticipated decision replaces the emergency use authorization granted by the agency last December. The full approval could make it easier for employers, the military, and universities, as well as other public places, like restaurants and airports, to require vaccination and may reassure some people who are hesitant about the vaccine.

NSC also urges federal and state governments to remove prohibitions or barriers to vaccine requirements, expedite the full approval of vaccines and issue factual updates on vaccines as quickly as possible.

“It’s clear COVID-19 has and will continue perhaps indefinitely to affect the way we live and work,” said Martin. “Employers must put worker health and safety first. That begins with prioritizing vaccination.”

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