This week, the Labor Movement took a stand for workplace safety and health in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The National AFL-CIO is calling for an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from the potential COVID-19 pandemic and future infectious agents.
There is no existing OSHA standard or basic regulatory framework that comprehensively addresses an employer’s responsibility to protect workers from infectious diseases. In the absence of a set of mandatory infection control requirements that employers must implement, there is no assurance that all workers will be protected from infectious diseases like COVID-19.
Unions have been protecting our members on the front lines, and we have highly trained and equipped workers. But that isn’t enough, the COVID-19 outbreak is another tragic reminder that the United States is not prepared to adequately protect workers on the front lines from infectious disease.
Preparedness is only effective if it includes a comprehensive framework to protect the health and safety of workers on the front lines of protecting and treating the public during a health crisis. OSHA has the authority and responsibility to protect the health and safety of America’s workers and must act swiftly. The magnitude and urgency of this outbreak cannot be minimized.