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OSHA’s ‘absurd reinterpretation’ of a regulation regarding workers and Covid-19

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  • OSHA’s ‘absurd reinterpretation’ of a regulation regarding workers and Covid-19

    NOVEMBER 24, 2020

    Workplace exposures continue to be a major driver of the coronavirus pandemic, something that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) should be on top of. But a reinterpretation of a reporting rule is making that all but impossible.

    ... Exposure to the virus has sickened hundreds of thousands of workers and killed many hundreds more. Nursing home operators, for example, reported 365,000 confirmed or suspected infections among their staff and more than 1,000 deaths between May and mid-October. The Food and Environment Reporting Network has compiled reports of more than 70,000 infections and 300 deaths among workers in the food industry. Both sets of statistics are incomplete and clearly underestimate the true toll.

    ... OSHA, the primary federal agency with the authority to enforce safe conditions for workers, has come under sustained and justified criticism both for its meager enforcement activities and its refusal to issue an emergency temporary standardrequiring employers to take specific steps to protect workers. OSHA has become primarily an advisory agency instead of an enforcement agency, offering voluntary guidance to employers instead of issuing enforceable standards.