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US Labor Department warns Arizona, 2 other GOP states over COVID rules

Arizona one of 3 states that refused to implement federal vaccine requirements for workplaces.

PHOENIX — The Biden administration is threatening to revoke the authority for three Republican-controlled states, including Arizona, to handle their own workplace safety regulations because they have refused to adopt rules to protect health care workers from COVID-19. 

The threats were sent to Arizona, South Carolina and Utah as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prepares to adopt much more far-reaching vaccination and testing rules affecting 80 million Americans. 

OSHA officials say Arizona, South Carolina and Utah are not complying with their promises to enforce labor standards that are at least as good as those adopted by the federal government.

In September, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich signed a letter with 23 other Republican Attorney Generals that threatened the Biden administration if federal vaccine requirements continued. 

RELATED: GOP prosecutors threaten lawsuits over vaccine requirement

The Safer Federal Workforce, which was established when Biden took office, posted on its website in September that federal workers must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22. That means they would need to get their final dose no later than Nov. 8. This does not apply to private sector workers, only federal employees.

Meanwhile, the OSHA rule, which covers nearly two-thirds of the private sector workforce, would last six months, after which it must be replaced by a permanent measure. Employers that don’t comply could face penalties of up to $13,600 per violation.

The rule takes effect in 29 states where OSHA has jurisdiction, according to a primer by the law firm Fisher Phillips. Other states like California and North Carolina that have their own federally approved workplace safety agencies would have up to 30 days to adopt equivalent measures.

RELATED: Details of Biden's vaccination-or-testing rule could come any day

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