WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) joined Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and 113 Members of Congress in urging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a permanent health care standard to protect health care workers amidst a surging pandemic.
Rep. Grijalva joined his colleagues urging for more permanent protections as one Arizona hospital system recently announced that it would permit hospital staff that have tested positive for COVID-19 to continue interacting and working with patients.
The lawmakers wrote, “We have heard from frontline workers how they are exhausted and scared after combating this virus for nearly two years. They have gone beyond their call to duty, and they are past their breaking points. Rescinding this standard now, during one of the largest surges of this virus, puts them, their families, and their communities at risk. These workers have labored and sacrificed for the duration of the pandemic and it is unconscionable to remove critical protections that allow them to operate in a safe working environment without a meaningful permanent standard in place.
“We are in desperate need of a continued strong, enforceable standard to provide full protections for these workers for the duration of the pandemic. Any delay in issuing a final standard directly puts these workers across the country at risk of illness and death as a result of COVID-19. We respectfully request an immediate resolution and urge OSHA to issue a permanent health care standard to protect these at-risk workers for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, and retention of the temporary standard so there is not further lapse in protections.”
Rep. Grijalva has repeatedly highlighted the importance of an Emergency Temporary Standard, issued by OSHA, to ensure that workers are guaranteed strong, enforceable protections in the workplace specific to COVID-19. In June of 2021, OSHA issued an Emergency Temporary Standard, but in December of 2021, OSHA announced a plan to rescind the Standard during one of the largest surges of the pandemic as a result of the omicron variant.
The full letter can be found here.