Senators: DOL’s Recently Imposed Fines on Employers for Failing to Protect Their Workers from COVID-19 are Inadequate
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) led their colleagues in urging U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Eugene Scalia to follow his mission to assure worker safety and health and take immediate, strong action to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure, illness, and death on the job. The Senators are urging Secretary Scalia to instruct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring employers to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Worker safety during this pandemic is also family and community safety. By putting corporate profits before the safety and health of workers and the general public, the Trump Administration is endangering the lives of workers and contributing to the spread of COVID-19,” wrote the senators. “We urge you to immediately issue an Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19 and fully enforce existing worker safety protections.”
Senator Baldwin introduced legislation to protect U.S. workers from COVID-19 in response to disturbing, widespread reports of unsafe workplaces leading to preventable illnesses and deaths. The COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act would require OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that establishes a legal obligation for all workplaces to implement comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plans to keep workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite repeated calls, including in this letter, the administration has failed to issue the needed ETS.
Along with Baldwin and Brown, the letter was also signed by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
The full letter is available here.