The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Thursday rejected the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations’ (AFL-CIO) petition for an emergency temporary standard that would impose mandatory COVID-19-specific duties on employers to protect employees during the national emergency.

The AFL-CIO on May 6 filed an administrative petition in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to compel the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS). The OSHA then denied the petition and AFL-CIO challenged OSHA’s decision.

“In light of the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the regulatory tools that the OSHA has at its disposal to ensure that employers are maintaining hazard-free work environments, the OSHA reasonably determined that an ETS is not necessary at this time,” the court said in its ruling.

“The agency is authorized to issue an ETS if it determines that ’employees are exposed to grave danger’ from a new hazard in the workplace, and an ETS is ‘necessary’ to protect them from that danger,” the court ruling continued.

“We are pleased with the decision from the D.C. Circuit, which agreed that OSHA reasonably determined that its existing statutory and regulatory tools are protecting America’s workers and that an emergency temporary standard is not necessary at this time,” Solicitor of Labor Kate O’Scannlain and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Loren Sweatt said in a press release on Thursday. “OSHA will continue to enforce the law and offer guidance to employers and employees to keep America’s workplaces safe.”