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COVID-19 emergency temporary standard delay continues

Posted On: May. 7, 2021 11:39 AM CST


Progress on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s expected COVID-19 emergency temporary standard to keep workers safe in the pandemic has been delayed by several weeks of ongoing meetings at the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which received a draft of the standard April 27.

According to a meeting calendar, the regulatory affair’s Office of Management Budget has been meeting since April 29 and has scheduled meetings through May 13. The standard is not without controversy: labor groups have since 2020 lobbied for stricter safety rules for employers, and employer groups and representatives have said the standard is not necessary given that OSHA can apply its general duty clause to cite workplaces that fail to keep workers safe.

Meanwhile, OSHA on March 12 announced a National Emphasis Program to target industries with workers at risk for COVID-19, and the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General has said it will continue to audit OSHA’s handling of the pandemic into 2022.

Talk of an emergency temporary standard followed a Jan. 21 executive order that gave OSHA until March 15 to decide whether a standard to keep workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic was necessary, a deadline the agency missed.

A spokeswoman for Department of Labor in April told Business Insurance that “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.”

The proposed emergency standard has not been made public.

More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here