Chairman Scott: Government Watchdog Report on OSHA Enforcement Demonstrates Need for Emergency Workplace Safety Standard

WASHINGTON Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) released the following statement after the Department of Labor Office of Investigator General released a report on OSHA enforcement and investigations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For over a year now, I have called on the Department of Labor to issue an enforceable, emergency temporary standard to protect workers from contracting COVID-19. Yet, despite overwhelming pressure from Congress, workers, and public health experts, the previous administration refused to take any meaningful action to protect workers.

“Now, the Inspector General’s report reveals the consequences of the Trump administration’s inaction. Since the start of the pandemic, workplace safety complaints rose by 15 percent, yet OSHA performed 50 percent fewer inspections than in the previous year. The report clearly shows that the political appointees at OSHA and in the White House exposed employees to a greater safety risk during the worst workplace safety crisis in OSHA’s 50-year history.

“The report specifically identifies the lack of an enforceable safety standard as key factor in OSHA’s inability to protect workers. It says: ‘While OSHA has issued several guidance documents to enhance safety provisions during the pandemic, guidance is not enforceable like rules or standards would be.’

“COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on workers across key sectors, including health care, meatpacking, corrections, and nursing homes.  Issuing an enforceable standard sooner could have saved lives. Instead, workers were left on their own.

“However, I am pleased that the Biden administration is taking a strong, science-based approach to addressing this pandemic. The Committee on Education and Labor stands ready to support the President’s initiatives to ensure a fully protective Emergency Temporary Standard is issued in a timely manner, so we can finally begin to protect all workers from COVID-19.”


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