ARIZONA NEWS

US Labor Department warns Arizona, 2 other GOP states over COVID rules

Oct 19, 2021, 4:00 PM | Updated: Oct 20, 2021, 6:51 am
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PHOENIX (AP) — The Biden administration threatened Tuesday to revoke the authority for three Republican-controlled states to handle their own workplace safety enforcement because they have refused to adopt rules to protect health care workers from COVID-19.

The threats were sent to Arizona, South Carolina and Utah as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration prepares to adopt much more far-reaching vaccination and testing rules affecting 80 million Americans. In nearly half the states, it will have to rely on state labor regulators for enforcement.

OSHA officials say Arizona, South Carolina and Utah are not complying with their promises to enforce labor standards that are at least as good as those adopted by the federal government.

At issue is a rule requiring personal protective equipment, social distancing and other safety measures for workers at health care facilities that care for people with COVID-19. It also requires paid sick time for employees who contract COVID-19, need to get vaccinated or are dealing with vaccine side effects.

“The agency will not hesitate to use all of our resources to protect health care workers from known health hazards,” said Jim Frederick, acting assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

OSHA has given up its authority to enforce workplace safety laws and regulations for the private sector in 22 states, including Arizona, South Carolina and Utah. In exchange, the states must adopt rules that are as effective or better than the federal regulations at protecting workers.

OSHA officials said they will take the first step toward revoking that authority, which all three states have had since the 1980s, and reclaiming jurisdiction for federal enforcers in the health care sector or others.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, called the move “nothing short of a political stunt and desperate power grab.”

Trevor Laky, a spokesman for the Industrial Commission of Arizona, said the agency has begun a rulemaking process. While the state could adopt emergency rules that take effect quickly, he said agency leaders prefer a more transparent process that allows for public comment.

He blamed OSHA officials for taking two months to tell the state that its existing wage and hour laws weren’t good enough.

“We are disappointed that federal OSHA has decided to take this step against our very successful state OSHA program,” Emily Farr, head of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, said in a statement.

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson said in a statement that the federal rules would burden health care providers. They reject the assertion that their own rules aren’t as good as the federal ones.

“Despite today’s communication, we still welcome an opportunity to further explain our position and recommendations” Cox and Henderson said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook photo/Wendy Rogers), (Wikimedia Commons photo/Gage Skidmore)...
Associated Press

Former President Trump endorses 2 Arizona audit supporters for state Senate

Former President Donald Trump has given his influential endorsement to two Arizona legislative candidates who gained national notoriety for promoting the state Senate's partisan review of the 2020 election.
19 hours ago
(Phoenix Police Department sketches)...
KTAR.com

Reward increased for information on suspects of Phoenix cold case from 2013

Monday marked eight years since a man was murdered at a Phoenix apartment complex and authorities are increasing the reward to help solve the cold case.
19 hours ago
(Facebook photo/Cesar Chavez High School)...
KTAR.com

1 injured, suspect outstanding in shooting at Cesar Chavez High School in Phoenix

A teen boy was injured and a suspect was outstanding following a shooting at Cesar Chavez High School in Phoenix on Monday, authorities said.
19 hours ago
(Flickr Photo/Grand Canyon National Park)...
Kevin Stone

Grand Canyon National Park transitions to winter operations this week

Grand Canyon National Park is modifying shuttle routes, Mather Campground reservations and North Rim access as part of its annual winter transition.
19 hours ago
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness (Bureau of Land Management Photo/Bob Wick)...
Associated Press

Arizona ranches, ghost town find new life as conservation areas

A pair of ranches and a ghost town in southern Arizona will be conserved for wildlife and recreation under separate deals brokered recently by nonprofit land trusts.
19 hours ago
(Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)...
KTAR.com

Phoenix pushing into new territory with continued warm November temperatures

The air may have a chill in the mornings these days, but don’t let that fool you – Phoenix is on track to finish a very warm November.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Sanderson Ford offers cars and deals for all this holiday season

Sanderson Ford’s No! Vember Black Friday sale is giving an opportunity to purchase a new 2021 vehicle just in time for the holiday season.
(Facebook Photo/NHTSA)...
Sweet James

Upcoming holiday season is peak time for DUI arrests

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most dangerous time of the year to be driving. That’s why it’s important to remember to call Sweet James Accident Attorneys if you’re injured or arrested because of a DUI accident.
...
PNC Bank

How one organization supports early childhood literacy for the most vulnerable

Nearly two out of every three children in low-income communities don’t own a single children’s book, a fact that ultimately could have profound impacts even before entering kindergarten, according to Arizona nonprofit Southwest Human Development.
US Labor Department warns Arizona, 2 other GOP states over COVID rules