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COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate: NPGA Webinar, Legal Action, and Resources

National Propane Gas Association joined a coalition of trade associations in a federal court challenge of the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that requires companies with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for non-exempt employees or implement testing protocols. On November 23, OSHA filed a motion urging the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to immediately dissolve the current stay, which was put in place by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on November 6. As petitioners in the litigation, NPGA’s counsel is responding to OSHA’s filing.

In light of the ongoing litigation, the White House directed the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force to delay the deadline for vaccination of employees of federal contractors and subcontractors.  The new deadline is January 18, 2022.

On November 19, NPGA hosted a webinar providing information on the ETS requirements, the ongoing rulemaking process, and the status of NPGA’s litigation opposing the ETS. The webinar featured a marketer’s perspective from Tom Manson, CEO of Eastern Propane & Oil, which operates in five states with nearly 500 employees.  A copy of the presentation is available on the Member Dashboard.

NPGA is pursuing three parallel tracks: OSHA rulemaking on the ETS; litigation before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; and guidance materials for the ETS, if the compliance deadlines are enforced. NPGA’s litigation petition joins several trade associations that rely on over-the-road transportation and provide consumer services or goods. NPGA is not challenging the value or efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, but rather that NPGA members have taken extraordinary measures to protect the propane industry’s employees, customers, and communities during the pandemic. This mandate could result in lost employees, high compliance costs, and worsening supply chains and labor markets.

NPGA drafted guidance materials and identified valuable resources for members to utilize in developing policies required by the ETS. While litigation and congressional action move forward, OSHA agreed to abide by a stay of enforcement currently enforced by the court; however, companies are encouraged to review guidance materials and policy requirements should the status quickly change. NPGA’s guidance materials and templates are available on the Member Dashboard.

NPGA developed guidance summarizing the primary requirements of the COVID-19 vaccination executive orders, answers to frequently asked questions, and additional government resources for federal contractors and subcontractors as well as a template document for propane marketers to request a temporary exception from the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors.  The initial compliance deadline for federal contractors and subcontractors is delayed until January 18, 2022. These resources are available on NPGA’s Member Dashboard.

Finally, OSHA requested feedback regarding the impact to employers with 100 and more employees as well as potentially expanding the scope of the ETS policies to employers with fewer employees.  Please complete a brief survey to provide valuable information to aide NPGA’s advocacy.  OSHA has extended the comment deadline for this request to January 19, 2022.

Please direct any questions to Mike Caldarera, Senior Vice President of Regulatory & Technical Services, or Sarah Reboli, NPGA Senior Director of Regulatory & Industry Affairs.