Indiana Chamber responds to Biden’s workplace executive order

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana businesses are keeping a close eye on President Joe Biden’s executive order on workplace safety.

It requires the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to revise pandemic guidelines for companies in two weeks.

Overall, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce said it agrees with the decision to take another look at workplace pandemic guidelines.

“It doesn’t benefit anyone if the workers get sick,” said Greg Ellis, the vice president of federal affairs at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. “They increase healthcare cost which could increase healthcare insurance premiums for the employers, the lost productivity.”

President Biden ordered OSHA to base these updated rules on science.

“They have to rely on science, there has to be evidence, it pushes mask wearing,” said Ellis.

The Indiana Chamber supports a potential federal mask mandate.

“The fact that the federal government is going to do something that looks like it’s going to mandate mask wearing, it’s a best practice that we should be following,” said Ellis.

Enforcement might get tricky when it comes to the public.

“Customers come in, you know, restaurants are struggling. Do you want to turn away a customer and say ‘you can’t come in, you are not wearing a mask?’” questioned Ellis.

The Indiana Trial Lawyers Association said more direction is needed in the workplace right now.

“The executive order, I think, is a step in the right direction to try to provide clarity to the business community saying, ‘this is what we expect,'” said Fred Schultz, the president of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association.

The only rule the chamber said it would not support would include any kind of unfunded financial burden on companies such as investments in certain kind of filtration systems.

“Those standards would be burdensome that would require investments from employers in situations that they may not have the revenue right now to do,” said Ellis.

President Biden gave OSHA two weeks to consider rule changes and if to be determined necessary they would be issued by March 15.

The Indiana Department of Labor sent a statement saying, “IOSHA is studying the executive order language, and will seek out more information from federal OSHA to determine how Indiana would need to proceed.”

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