HUDSON, Fla. — With 168 employees across five branches positioned around Florida, Suncoast Roofing & Solar is one of the Tampa Bay businesses that will be impacted by OSHA's new vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard.
What You Need To Know
- Suncoast Roofing & Solar is one of the FL businesses that will be impacted by the new OSHA vaccination and testing rule.
- The business says it's already updated their employee handbook and alerted workers about the new requirements.
- Suncoast doesn't expect to lose employees because of options offered by the rule.
- Learn more about the federal vaccine mandate.
"We're ready for it. No one's going to lose their job over it," said Mary Surnicki, Suncoast's corporate compliance manager.
Surnicki said following all standards set by the the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a normal part of work for Suncoast crews. According to her, employee handbooks have already been updated and workers are aware of the new requirements. While she said many are already vaccinated, there are options for those who aren't. Information from the White House states those who choose not to get vaccinated must undergo weekly testing and wear masks while at work.
"I think that it's very manageable," Surnicki said. "It's something that, you know, an employer can meet all the criteria of the OSHA standard, follow the federal law and then still give their employees their individuality and do what's right for them."
The new rule is expected to affect 84 million U.S. workers.
"We know that exposure to coronavirus presents a great danger to our workers and that vaccination is the most effective way to protect workers from this deadly virus," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh during a briefing with reporters Thursday morning.
Deputy Asst. Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick said the new rule provides guidance when it comes to verifying vaccination. He said workers can show employers their vaccination card or other documentation from a medical provider or state health department. As for enforcement, Frederick said OSHA has a long history of enforcing other standards by making sure expectations are clearly outlined and performing inspections when complaints are filed.
"We recognize that the vast majority of workplaces comply with the OSHA standards and the vast majority of workers come to work wanting a healthy and safe workplace. So, we know in this enforcement scope we're really talking about the outliers that do not comply. We know that the vast majority of workplaces will comply with this rule," said Frederick.
Surnicki said she expects some changes.
"It definitely affects our culture, our hiring culture. It affects every company. It's not just us. This is something we didn't expect, to have a pandemic. I don't think we're going to lose anybody. I think that we do really good about education. So, the more educated they are on the decisions on their own body, that's up to them. You know, we support them fully," she said.
However, while Surnicki said Suncoast was able to work possible COVID-related changes like this into their business plan for this year and next, she noted not all impacted companies may have been able to do that. For them, the new rule may bring new challenges.