WASHINGTON – In a recent petition to the US Court of Appeals, The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) asked to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard protecting US workers against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The union stated its petition demonstrated that thousands of workers have been infected on the job, with numbers likely increasing as the economy reopens around the country.
“It’s truly a sad day in America when working people must sue the organization tasked with protecting our health and safety,” said Richard Trumka, president of AFL-CIO. “But we’ve been left no choice. Millions are infected and nearly 90,000 have died, so it’s beyond urgent that action is taken to protect workers who risk our lives daily to respond to this public health emergency. If the Trump administration refuses to act, we must compel them to.”
AFL-CIO pointed out that the current CDC and OSHA guidelines leave it up to employers to determine what personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed to cover eyes and mouths of workers.
On May 19, the Department of Labor, which oversees OSHA, said it adopted revised policies for enforcing OSHA's requirements concerning coronavirus.
OSHA will begin to increase in-person inspections at all types of workplaces. Secondly, the agency revised its previous enforcement policy for recording cases of coronavirus. Under OSHA's recordkeeping requirements, coronavirus is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording the coronavirus cases.
Details can be found on the DOL website.
The petition asks for OSHA to respond to this request within 10 days and then gives the AFL-CIO two days to reply to OSHA's response.