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AFL-CIO: OSHA's Many Pandemic Failures

Report shows that Trump's OSHA failed 98% of COVID-19 safety complaints

Brian Young's picture
Oct 12, 2020

Seven months into the pandemic and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has still failed to investigate many of the COVID-19 workplace complaints that have been filed by employees.

The AFL-CIO says that through October 1, 9,000 complaints have been filed, but only 198 have had investigations opened and of the 1,215 referrals related to COVID, they have only investigated 85. In their yearly report on workplace deaths, the AFL-CIO said OSHA "has investigated few complaints and issued fewer citations." More than 2,000 of the complaints were from health care workers, with another 1,000 coming from retail workers. Essential workers like those in healthcare and retail have been hit hard by the virus.

The report looked into some of the failures by OSHA and Trump to protect workers. They found that while workplaces were primary sources of spread for the virus, there is little data on how many people were infected at work due to the lack of a national surveillance system to track cases. Instead of providing strong safety requirements, Trump provided business-driven recommendations that are voluntary and were weakened by political and business interference. This is supported by a UCOMM report that Trump received large donations from some of the nation’s largest restaurant and fast food owners in early March when decisions about safety for these frontline workers were being made.

According to the AFL-CIO, only nine employers have been cited by OSHA for not protecting workers. The median penalty was just $11,567.

To fix the problem, the labor organization is calling on OSHA to issue emergency COVID-19 safety standards that protect workers as well as a permanent standard for protecting workers from infectious diseases. They also want to see the agency enforce these laws and hold employers accountable for putting their employees at risk.

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