TUCSON, Ariz. – Today, Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) and Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02) wrote in support of Department of Labor actions to address Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) failure to adopt a similar or higher standard than the Covid-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard (Covid-19 Healthcare ETS). ADOSH has yet to adopt the Covid-19 Healthcare ETS in full, unnecessarily placing Arizona’s frontline health care workers and their patients at risk. Arizona is the only state in the nation that does have an acceptable minimum standard to protect its health workers from COVID-19 in effect.
The members of Congress detail in their letter how after two and a half years of the pandemic health care workers in Arizona hospitals have experienced hospital administrators’ many failures to protect workers and patients including lack of infection control measures in Arizona’s hospitals, refusal to provide basic PPE protections promised by the Covid-19 Healthcare ETS, failure to be informed about exposure to Covid-19 in a timely manner among others. Many complaints have been filed to ADOSH for Covid-19-related hazards that would have been violations of the Covid-19 Healthcare ETS but were dismissed by ADOSH because the agency did not adopt the ETS.
Given Arizona’s failure to implement COVID-19 Healthcare ETS, the Members call for the necessary revocation of the state’s health and work program and enforcement by OSHA:
“To ensure that workplace safety standards promulgated by OSHA are consistently enforced throughout the country, it is the statutory responsibility of OSHA to ensure that all approved state occupational safety and health plans adopt and enforce standards that are as effective as federal OSHA standards. So long as ADOSH fails to match or exceed federal OSHA standards, it is not only appropriate but necessary for federal OSHA to proceed with its proposed reconsideration and revocation of Arizona’s state plan approval and its tentatively scheduled informal public hearing on the matter. OSHA’s proposal to hold an informal hearing on ADOSH’s state plan approval is just the first step in the reconsideration and revocation process… Given the ongoing risks of Covid-19 for health care workers, we respectfully urge OSHA to exercise federal enforcement authority until deficiencies are remedied.”