The COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping throughout the United States. Every day, health care workers, transit workers, meatpacking workers, first responders, grocery workers, utility workers, agricultural workers, waste workers, letter carriers, construction workers, social service workers, doormen, retail workers, factory workers, janitors, correctional officers and other workers are being exposed to coronavirus in U.S. workplaces. Hundreds of thousands have become infected and thousands have died.
These are the workers on the front lines of this outbreak, and they deserve to have confidence that the appropriate resources, equipment, training, and protocols are readily available in their workplaces to be protected, as well as to avoid infecting other people, including patients, co-workers, the public and their own families when they go home. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the obligation to ensure the health and safety of all working people, particularly from an infectious disease such as COVID-19.
Due to reckless inaction by the Trump administration, working people do not have the protections they need to be at work now or to return to work. Now is the time to provide workers with the protections required to prevent exposure to the virus on the job and slow the transmission of COVID-19.
An emergency temporary standard is needed to protect workers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is no existing OSHA standard or basic regulatory framework that comprehensively addresses an employer’s responsibility to protect workers from infectious diseases. In the absence of a set of mandatory infection control requirements that employers must implement, there is no assurance that all workers will be protected from infectious diseases like COVID-19 and future infectious agents.
Unions have been protecting our members on the front lines, and we have highly trained workers. But that isn’t enough. The COVID-19 outbreak is another tragic reminder that the United States is not prepared to adequately protect workers on the front lines from infectious disease.
Preparedness is only effective if it includes a comprehensive framework to protect the health and safety of workers on the front lines of protecting and treating the public during a health crisis. OSHA has the authority and responsibility to protect the health and safety of America’s workers and must act swiftly to protect all at-risk workers, including public employees. The magnitude and urgency of protecting all working people during this outbreak cannot be minimized.
Use this link to find and contact your Member of Congress and urge them to support, H.R. 6559, the COVID–19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020, to require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to promulgate an emergency temporary standard to protect employees from occupational exposure to SARS–CoV–2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.