Scott: Court of Appeals Ruling Ignores Evidence that OSHA is Failing to Protect Workers

June 11, 2020
Press Release

As originally released by the Committee on Education & Labor

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement after a federal court ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had “reasonably determined” that workers do not need an enforceable emergency workplace safety standard, or “Emergency Temporary Standard,” to protect them against infection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today’s U.S. Court of Appeals ruling ignores the overwhelming evidence that COVID-19 represents a ‘grave’ danger to workers and that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has failed to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The panel of judges relied exclusively on OSHA’s unsubstantiated claim that it is doing everything it can to protect workers. That assertion is clearly contradicted by the facts. Many of the 115,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 contracted the virus at work, but the federal agency with the power to write and enforce workplace safety standards has only issued voluntary guidance that employers can choose to ignore. 

“Despite the growing number of COVID-19 workplace outbreaks, OSHA is still refusing to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard that would establish enforceable workplace safety rules. While OSHA continues to claim that its existing tools are sufficient, the agency has issued just one coronavirus-related citation, and it was for a recordkeeping violation.

“This ruling reinforces the need for the Senate to advance the Heroes Act which includes a provision requiring OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard that would protect workers, their families, and their communities as the economy begins to reopen.”

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