AFT calls on OSHA to protect employees

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"Do Your Job OSHA” campaign calls on the agency to protect employees on frontlines of COVID-19 pandemic

 

The number of employees infected or killed by COVID-19 due to workplace exposure to the virus hasn’t been tallied yet, but those who represent these frontline workers say this count would be far lower if the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would step up to protect public and private sector workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.

AFT-WV President Fred Albert said, “OSHA was created 50 years ago today to ensure safe and healthy conditions on the job for America’s working men and women. Today also marks Workers Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for workers killed or injured on the job. So, it’s tragic that workers who are keeping our essential services afloat are dying as if the year were 1918 and this was the Spanish Flu. Where is OSHA? The agency isn’t requiring employers to follow its own COVID-19 guidelines, or the CDC’s. In fact, OSHA has repeatedly said it won’t enter workplaces to investigate in person. A pandemic is not the time to have the fox guarding the henhouse.”

There are 24 states where public workers have no OSHA protections on the job, rendering 8 million public sector workers without OSHA protection at work. West Virginia is one of these states. Even in the OSHA-covered states there is no specific OSHA workplace standard on airborne infectious diseases.

Along with labor unions and allies nationwide, AFT-WV is filing a complaint today with OSHA and the WV Department of Labor about COVID-19 worker protections as part of a nationwide “Do Your Job OSHA” campaign. Besides dozens of OSHA complaint filings across the country, the campaign has launched a petition at www.aft.org to call for better worker protections.

“Public and private employees are terrified of bringing this illness home to their families. And workers aren’t isolated from our communities. This pandemic will continue to spread unless we protect them, starting now,” continued Albert.

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