Democratic senators call on OSHA to issue Emergency Temporary Standard for workers due to coronavirus outbreak

Democratic senators call on OSHA to issue Emergency Temporary Standard for workers due to coronavirus outbreak
© Getty

Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezHillicon Valley: Facebook launches portal for coronavirus information | EU sees spike in Russian misinformation on outbreak | Senate Dem bill would encourage mail-in voting | Lawmakers question safety of Google virus website Democratic senators press Google over privacy of coronavirus screening site Menendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees MORE (D-N.J.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate Democrats propose ,000 hazard-pay plan for essential workers Trump administration issues guidance scaling back paid leave requirement for small business employees Senate coronavirus stimulus talks spill into Saturday MORE (D-Wash.) are calling on the Trump administration to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to protect workers from the spreading coronavirus.

The senators wrote to Labor Secretary Eugene ScaliaEugene ScaliaDemocratic lawmaker calls for Peace Corps, Americorps volunteers to be eligible for unemployment benefits Hillicon Valley: Thousands of Zoom recordings exposed online | Google shares location data to counter virus | Dem senator pushes jobless benefits for gig workers | Twitter takes down 20,000 fake accounts Democrat presses Trump administration on jobless benefits for gig workers MORE saying the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within the Labor Department should announce an ETS after thousands of American workers are likely to be exposed to coronavirus due to their careers. They cited the “current and anticipated conditions” as reasons for OSHA to act. 

“The conditions on the ground seem to many observers to already satisfy the legal standards in the Occupational Safety and Health Act to justify OSHA issuing an ETS as health care workers, as well as other workers whose jobs involve interaction with the public, are clearly being exposed to ‘grave danger’ through exposure to the COVID-19 virus,” the letter said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The senators mentioned hundreds of health care workers, first responders, flight attendants, pilots, public transportation workers, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners, baggage handlers and social workers as being “on the frontline and have been, or are likely to, be exposed to COVID-19.”

“By not issuing an ETS, you will be failing to protect the countless other workers who are at elevated risk of being exposed to COVID-19 simply through their normal job duties,” the senators wrote. “As our nation’s response to COVID-19 continues and ramps up, it is imperative that you take a leadership role in protecting all workers during this public health emergency."

Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men Juan Williams: Biden's promises on women are a big deal MORE (D-Wis.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownFed eases Wells Fargo growth cap to let it issue emergency coronavirus loans Democratic senators call for funding for local media in coronavirus stimulus Zoom, grocery delivery, self-isolation: How lawmakers are surviving coronavirus MORE (D-Ohio), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthOvernight Defense: Navy chief resigns over aircraft carrier controversy | Trump replaces Pentagon IG | Hospital ship crew member tests positive for coronavirus Navy chief resigns amid uproar over handling of aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Tammy Duckworth calls on acting Navy secretary to resign MORE (D-Ill.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBiden joins calls to release racial breakdowns of coronavirus cases, deaths Bipartisan lawmakers call for global 'wet markets' ban amid coronavirus crisis Former Clinton staffers invited to celebrate Sanders dropping out: report MORE (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSteyer endorses Biden for president Biden joins calls to release racial breakdowns of coronavirus cases, deaths The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden faces tough task of uniting Democrats MORE (D-Mass.) also joined in sending the letter.

The letter follows a request from the AFL-CIO and its president, Richard Trumka, asking union members to call their representatives to push for OSHA to issue the ETS and act in response to the outbreak.

“An Emergency Temporary Standard is needed to protect our workers from the current COVID-19 outbreak and future infectious agents. Will you call your representative now?” Trumka wrote in an email.

The coronavirus has infected more than 700 people in the U.S., spreading to 36 states and Washington, D.C., causing 27 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.