Committee Holds Virtual Member Briefing on Worker Safety

WASHINGTON – Today, the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a virtual Member briefing to examine the worker safety crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The briefing, entitled “Protecting Workers from COVID-19,” focused on how, despite rising death tolls among workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – the only agency in the federal government with the authority to enforce safe working conditions – has not taken meaningful action to protect workers from COVID-19.

Although OSHA has issued voluntary guidelines for various sectors—such as health care, meat and poultry processing and retail operations—the agency has not used its authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to issue an enforceable Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that would establish mandatory requirements for workplace safety.

 “Hospital, nursing home, meatpacking, retail, warehouse, prison and many other essential workers are facing serious risks in the workplace, with many getting sick and dying, and OSHA has been missing in action, refusing to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect these workers,” said Subcommittee Chair Alma Adams (NC-12). “If OSHA will not act, Congress will to ensure workers do not have to choose between their jobs and their health.”

On May 12, the House introduced the Heroes Act, which requires OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard that covers all workers.

The briefing included Ademola Oyefeso of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and Dr. David Michaels, a professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health of the George Washington University.

Watch the full briefing here.


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