This week, the state of Virginia adopted our country’s first Coronavirus workplace safety rules. The rule changes came as a result of strong advocacy from workers and unions and a complete absence of Federal action, according to a recent article in the Washington Post:
State officials said they were pushed to act because of the lack of enforcement from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal body charged with upholding workplace safety.
OSHA has received thousands of complaints from workers who say their employers have failed to take basic steps to mitigate infection risks in industries from health care to construction and beyond. Loren Sweatt, the Trump appointee who leads the agency, disclosed during congressional testimony in May that OSHA had issued a citation for only one of the complaints.
Oregon - like Virginia - is one of just 21 states with the ability to create our own workplace safety standards and rules. However, there is no existing Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard or basic regulatory framework that comprehensively and enforceably addresses an employer's responsibility to protect Oregon’s workers from infectious diseases. The current guidance is time-limited as it is largely tied to Executive Orders and guidance keeps changing through phases in reopening. Changing guidance in workplaces is not beneficial for employers or workers, and that’s why Oregon OSHA should adopt a strong infectious disease standard.
On July 21, we have an opportunity to tell Oregon OSHA why we need stronger workplace protections during a public forum where workers are encouraged to share how COVID-19 has specifically impacted their workplaces.
Have you been worried about exposure to COVID-19 at work, lacking social distancing measures, PPE or any other protections? If so, please take a few minutes to share your story by clicking here.
All information collected will be used as written testimony to Oregon OSHA and will not be shared further - we value your privacy and need for confidentiality when discussing workplace safety issues. You can choose to keep your story anonymous as well.