Features, Health and Safety, Law and Politics, New York

OSHA – Failing to Protect Workers

June 22, 2020

By Neal Tepel LaborPress Publisher

New York, NY – With the spread of COVID-19, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a critical role in tracking this deadly virus within the world-of-work. Since factories, warehouses, meat processing plants, and other business facilities have become incubators for the spread of infection, OSHA must provide monitoring, update its technology and effectively utilize social media. Information must be accurately gathered and disseminated in real-time. 

“I think that the general consensus among unions is that OSHA has been a huge disappointment during this pandemic in protecting workers,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “Very little surprises me in the Trump era, but I am incredibly disappointed that OSHA has not had a more active role in protecting workers from the largest health and safety problem that our workforce has ever seen,” Appelbaum said.

 Retail operations, food processing plants, and warehouses represent potential incubators for the spread of COVID-19. Without timely data, we don’t know the risks to employees and customers. Businesses are reacting to the coronavirus after deaths have occurred rather than planning ahead to prevent illness to workers. OSHA is failing to shed light on possible outbreaks and currently does not provide updated information on ‘hot’ spots. 

Amazon warehouses are a critical component of its huge distribution system. Although employees were becoming sick within their network, it took months for the company to address the COVID-19 outbreaks at its operations. Workers died without OSHA tracking disease spread, issuing citations or shutting down facilities. 

Companies as Amazon, Facebook and Walmart will not voluntarily provide bad news to the public. The corporate world cannot be trusted to disclose that their employees or customers have contracted a deadly disease. They will hide information as much as possible. It must be OSHA that monitors and collects critical health and safety data in real-time from these establishments. 

OSHA needs to develop a system to regularly scrutinize and record COVID-19 cases. Without collecting and disseminating daily information, the public will not know when a virus has infected workers or precautions outlined by the CDC are not followed. OSHA must utilize the most up-to-date technology and be more aggressive in monitoring employers.

June 22, 2020

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