The coronavirus has already added a new layer of complexity to the construction workplace, but more change is coming soon. We need your help in reporting about those changes.
When a vaccine is made available, each of the world’s countries will approach the task differently and within the U.S., each individual and industry, including construction, will face some difficult decisions. We will be exploring this subject in an upcoming report and we need your help.
Consider what’s involved for craft workers. A research study several years ago showed that construction craft workers are less likely than other types of workers to have themselves vaccinated for seasonal flu. Yet in May, the news bulletin of the Center for Construction Research and Training pointed out that 1.4 million construction workers, or 12.3% of the total, were 60 or older. Nearly one in five had a respiratory disease, one in five were smokers, and altogether nearly six out of 10 had at least one factor that put them “at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”
So the first question we want to ask is, do you intend to take a vaccine distributed in the U.S., and if not, why?
Then there is the broader policy issue for employers and the legal issues surrounding whether workers of any type can be required to have a coronavirus vaccine as a condition of employment.
Is mandatory vaccination reasonable for the varied working conditions on U.S. construction jobsites and offices?
The legal pot has been boiling on vaccines for years.
In the past, according to a report by Littler, a labor and employment law firm, employees have claimed in lawsuits that mandatory flu vaccination requirements are unreasonable invasions of privacy. More recently, however, employers may face liability under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act or a state equivalent for failure to provide workplaces safe from COVID-19. On top of that, states are adopting different approaches to pandemic-related workers’ compensation coverage, with some extending benefits to certain classes of employees who become ill.
Do you face tough choices about vaccines in the construction workplace? Let us know with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, (use the word “vaccine” in the subject field) or leave a comment on this article online. We’ll keep any email private until we discuss whether you wish to be quoted. In either case, we value your input.