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AFL-CIO sues OSHA for failing to issue COVID standard

Posted On: May. 19, 2020 1:42 PM CST


The AFL-CIO filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration over the lack of temporary standards to protect workers in the country from acquiring COVID-19.

The union organization filed the petition Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit, asking the court to compel the agency to issue an emergency temporary standard for preventing worker exposure to coronavirus.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, the AFL-CIO and nearly two dozen other unions have petitioned OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to protect workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19. While the agency has released industry-specific guidance for a variety of industries, the guidance is not enforceable. In an April 28 memo, the U.S. Department of Labor stated that OSHA will enforce guidance at its “discretion” and recommended that employers conduct their own worksite assessments to identify COVID-19 risks and implement prevention strategies.

On Friday, attorneys general from 20 states sent a letter to the Trump Administration asking for enforceable standards to protect workers in the meatpacking and poultry processing industry from COVID-19.

The AFL-CIO argues that “… OSHA’s evolving voluntary guidance to the employer community was no substitute for the immediate imposition of mandatory, legally enforceable, COVID-19-specific duties on employers to protect workers from this grave danger.”

The petition seeks a response from OSHA within 10 days.

More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here.