WASHINGTON— Today, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 that will require employers to take certain measures to protect employees in the workplace from COVID-19. The standard only applies to the healthcare industry and does not cover employers in other high-risk industries. In response, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva issued the following statement:
“I’ve long called for an emergency temporary standard to ensure that workers are protected from COVID-19 in the workplace. While I appreciate the Biden Administration’s actions to protect those working in healthcare settings, this standard fails to adequately extend the same protections to those in other high-risk industries. Throughout the pandemic we saw high infection, hospitalization, and death rates among those working in the meatpacking industry, grocery stores, and hospitality sectors—a disproportionate number of those were people of color and low-wage earners.
“During this pandemic the Trump Administration failed both employers and employees together with a lack of early guidance and assurance in regards to work conditions. Now, in order to get more people safely back to work, we must be clear about what is expected in terms of precautions. A strong enforceable OSHA standard across the board would be a benefit to businesses and consumers, especially now that states are reopening. I encourage the administration to broaden this standard and I urge every employer to take the necessary measures to keep their workers safe and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
As a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. Grijalva has called for an Emergency Temporary Standard since March 2020.
In December 2020, Rep. Grijalva sent a letter to OSHA to answer for its failure to enforce the nation’s worker health and safety laws after a report showed they failed to investigate the majority of complaints related to workplace safety and COVID-19, including retaliation claims.
Rep. Grijalva is an original cosponsor of The COVID–19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020, which would require OSHA to issue an enforceable Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), based on CDC guidance, to protect all workers from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
In April 2021, Congressman Grijalva requested that the FY2022 Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill increase funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to reverse a downward trend in safety and health inspections and better protect workers.