Yesterday, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released the weekly COVID-19 infection numbers, revealing the continuation of an alarming trend: Workplace-related infections and deaths continue to climb, pushing infection numbers skyward. OHA reports 9,973 workplace-related cases of COVID-19, 53 workplace-related deaths, and one-in-six Oregonians who have contracted COVID-19 stem from workplace outbreaks.
This week, Oregon OSHA filed their Emergency Temporary Standard to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure at work. In a release last week, the Oregon AFL-CIO acknowledged the rules as a step closer to workplace safety but with room for improvement as Oregon OSHA drafts the Permanent Standard for airborne viruses such as COVID-19.
Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor responded to the climbing COVID-19 infections:
“Oregon’s unions and worker advocates have been clear from the start of the pandemic: Going to work should not be a death sentence. Oregon OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard is a strong step forward, but eight months into this pandemic we are seeing a tremendous increase in cases both at work and throughout our communities. Oregon has had several high-profile outbreaks at food processing facilities and we know that ventilation will help considerably given the working conditions with places like Pacific Seafood, where workers are in close proximity on a processing line and need to yell over loud machinery to communicate. We need to keep pushing forward to fully protect all workers from COVID-19: As we move closer to drafting a Permanent Standard, we must see stronger ventilation requirements for all industries. Infected air needs to be moved out of places of employment and clean air in, and the Emergency Temporary Standard only requires all other employers to optimize their current systems. Keeping workers safe cannot be done through half-measures.”
To find information about workplace outbreaks or to file a complaint about your workplace in Oregon, please visit the Oregon AFL-CIO’s searchable database at www.oraflcio.org/osha. We will continue to update this database weekly after the OHA data is released as a resource for Oregonians.