The U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit received this week briefs indicating that the conflicting dictionary definitions might be a major issue in the dispute about the federal mandate to provide vaccines for private employers. OSHA published its opponents to the mandate on Friday. The Justice Department claims that the mandate falls within its powers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Because the dispute centers largely around the meanings of key terms in that law, both parties in the 5th Circuit lawsuit did a dictionary dive in search for definitions that would support their arguments.
OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requires that all employees of companies having 100 or more must be vacinated or use face masks. They also have to undergo weekly OSHA testing. The 5th Circuit issued a temporary suspension to the ETS last Saturday in response to a suit filed by six workers of a Texas kitchen ventilation system company and a Louisiana supermarket chain. The court requested that the government “respond to petitioners’ permanent injunction motion” and asked for the petitioners to reply. Both briefs are in BST Holdings v. OSHAA mysterious question is often raised in the context of vaccine challenges: Is COVID-19 a “man agent”?
Because of legal requirements, an ETS is required. OSHA must identify an “extreme danger” for employees from “exposure to toxic substances or agents or new hazards.” The emergency standard must be shown to employees to safeguard them from the danger.
Plaintiffs BST Holdings v. OSHAThe Liberty Justice Center in Chicago and Louisiana’s Pelican institute for public policy represent the plaintiffs. They argue that not only is the ETS not necessary, but that Congress failed to recognize a “grave threat” because COVID-19, a toxic agent or substance, isn’t. OSHA can’t try to fit this disease in the category of “new hazards.” They say that the phrase should be understood to include airborne viruses. “Because Congress explicitly allowed an ETS for substances or agents found to be toxic or physical harmful, it is important to understand this catch-all phrase in relation to other hazards. It must also be limited to items similar to its predecessors.”
The government lawyers claim that the COVID-19 virus “is both a physical and a psychological disease.”
It is a dangerous agent that can cause new dangers. This fits easily into the definition of an “agent”, which can be defined as a “chemically, physically or biologically active principle.” This is Merriam Webster’s definition. agent. Also, Merriam Webster’s definition is cited in the brief by government officials Viral As an “infectious Agent”, it points out that OSHA defines “toxic substance” or “harmful physical agents” in order to encompass “biological agent”.[s](bacteria, virus, fungus, etc.).”
The plaintiffs disagree in their brief reply:
Respondents relied on Merriam-Webster’s definition 2b, which describes “agent” to be “a chemically-, physically-, or biologically-active principle.” Merriam-Webster, however, defines “principle (or a chemical ingredient) as an “ingredient” that imparts or exhibits a particular quality. An “ingredient” can be defined as “something that is added to a compound, or is part of any mixture or combination.” This is why it’s not considered a virus.
The Oxford Advanced American Dictionary defines an agent as “a chemical, or substance that causes an effect or changes or is used to accomplish a specific purpose.” In the Act’s context, an agent is a substance “used for particular purposes” at work. This statute is not intended to allow workers to work with substances they do not want. [OSHA]To mandate the vaccination of 84 million American workers.
This understanding AgentThe plaintiffs argue that OSHA has outgrown its mandate to safeguard workers from hazards at work by allowing its ETS to “not be related to the workplace”. This supports the more general claim of the plaintiffs. This means that COVID-19 does not pose a particular danger in the workplace. The risk is present in all settings where potential carriers are encountered. OSHA’s role is to regulate a “grave danger” that exists. More likely to happenThey say that this is true in the workplace. They also said that they could see other situations. [cited by the government]Employees were at greater risk due to the “grave danger” in the workplace.
OSHA’s standard for bloodborne pathogens is briefly mentioned. This standard was created to safeguard “workers who are exposed to blood or any other potentially infectious material.” The example shows that OSHA’s mandate is to address workplace hazards only. It does not cover the widespread threat from COVID-19. OSHA stated in its preamble that COVID-19 was not only a work-related danger.
Nevertheless, it seems that the standard for bloodborne pathogens appears to be contrary to the preferred definition by the plaintiffs. AgentOSHA considered infectious microorganisms to be “harmful physical agents” in this case. This precedent is cited by the government in its brief.
It was important to note that the standard for bloodborne pathogens required employers to offer free vaccinations against Hepatitis B. However, it didn’t mandate vaccines. OSHA also published the COVID-19-ETS for the health industry in June.
The plaintiffs contend that the ETS available to private employers is novel in four aspects: it does not target toxic substance agents; “it doesn’t relate to the workplace” and “it requires the use of a vaccine.” They also claim it attempts to shield employees against themselves. The last argument is undisputed, as OSHA requires safeguards like “personal protective equipment” that, at minimum, are aimed at protecting workers from injuring themselves. The plaintiffs claim that OSHA’s vaccine mandate is paternalistic, as it doesn’t address any workplace-specific hazards.
“The aim of the [Occupational Safety and Health Act]The brief states that workers should be provided with’safe, healthy working conditions’. ETS, however, attributes the “grave danger” to workers to their working conditions rather than to their lack of vaccination. It is not an occupational condition, but rather a private health decision. This Act does not cover the purpose of protecting employees untethered from work. Respondents have no precedent for such extreme paternalism.
The Occupational Safety and Heat Act is not meant to be used as a “catchall” for federal action when Congress hasn’t authorized it. However, the plaintiffs claim that this is exactly how the ETS is being used. As part of an overall effort to improve the nation’s vaccination rates, the White House proposed the ETS. According to the White House, the aim is to decrease the number Americans not vaccinated by using regulatory power and other actions that substantially increase Americans who are covered under vaccinations.
However, the federal government doesn’t have general authority over public health. It cannot control communicable illnesses, prevent them from spreading, and it can not require vaccinations. These are all primarily state-related responsibilities. The administration tried to make the mandate a safety precaution for workers. Let’s see if the courts agree with that description.