Administration

OSHA sends draft emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 to OMB review

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on Monday it has sent a draft emergency temporary standard (ETS) on the coronavirus pandemic to the Office of Management and Budget, defending the extra time the agency took to move on establishing a standard.

OSHA, a division of the Department of Labor (DOL), took "the appropriate time" to get the standards right, according to the DOL. President Biden issued an executive order in January on protecting worker health and safety, which called on OSHA to issue an ETS by March 15.

"OSHA has been working diligently on its proposal and has taken the appropriate time to work with its science-agency partners, economic agencies, and others in the U.S. government to get this proposed emergency standard right," a DOL spokesperson said in an email on Monday.

Democratic Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell, Rashida Tlaib and Andy Levin wrote a letter to Biden earlier on Monday calling for ETS implementation as COVID-19 cases in the state are rising again.

"What a difference a President Joe Biden and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh make. I've been calling for an emergency temporary standard to protect against COVID-19 for over a year now. I'm glad to see DOL acting to move us closer to issuing the ETS, and POTUS needs to approve it swiftly and get this standard into effect," Levin told The Hill on Monday following the announcement.

Democrats, unions and worker advocates have called for official OSHA COVID-19 standards since the onset of the pandemic. Former President Trump's OSHA refused to impose a nationwide safety standard, arguing that OSHA guidance was sufficient.

OSHA can authorize an emergency standard if it determines workers are in grave danger. That standard can only be challenged in a U.S. court of appeals as opposed to OSHA guidance, which allows for flexibility and lets the administration officials change it as they see fit.

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