The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday that three GOP-led states – Arizona, Utah and South Carolina – could lose their state-based authority to oversee workplace safety due to their unwillingness to adopt certain COVID-19 rules relating to health care facilities.
OSHA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor, has given 22 states the ability to control workplace safety regulations and laws so long as they implement strong regulations and follow guidelines put forth on a federal level.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Jim Frederick, acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, said, according to the New York Times, that the agency has "worked in good faith to help these three state plans come into compliance," however, "their continued refusal is a failure to maintain their state plan commitment to thousands of workers in their state."
Frederick's remarks reference a rule issued by OSHA in June which requires the use of protective gear, face masks, social distancing, and other safety measures at health care facilities where COVID-19 positive patients are being treated. In addition, the rule requires paid sick time for those employees who test positive for COVID-19, need to get vaccinated, or are dealing with side effects from the vaccine.
The Times reported that OSHA "will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing its proposal to reconsider and revoke approval of the three states’ self-regulation plans," noting that there will be a 35-day period for comment before the proposal is finalized.
The three states, which have been allowed to oversee workplace safety since the 1980s, had until July 21 to adopt the federal coronavirus standards or propose alternatives.
Following Frederick's remarks, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey released a statement, saying the move is "nothing short of a political stunt and desperate power grab."
"The [Industrial Commission of Arizona] is actively engaged in a public input process, encouraging Arizonans from every corner of the state to participate, and now the Biden administration is attempting to silence input from citizens and stakeholders alike," Ducey stated. "We won't allow it without a fight."
Last week, OSHA submitted the initial text of an emergency COVID-19 vaccine rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review. According to a Department of Labor spokesperson, the rule would require "employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated" or submit to regular testing.
Neither OSHA, nor officials in South Carolina, Utah, or Arizona, immediately responded to FOX Business' request for comment.