Federal agencies Workplace exposures

NSC to OSHA: Issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from COVID-19


Itasca, IL — The National Safety Council has issued a policy position statement calling on OSHA to immediately exercise its authority and issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers as organizations reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the absence of a regulation, OSHA can issue citations through its General Duty Clause. However, as of May 15, the agency had not issued any citations citing the clause at workplaces, according to a report published in POLITICO.

Issues that NSC believes should be addressed within a federal standard include but are not limited to:

  • Accessibility to handwashing stations in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations
  • Physical distancing requirements that follow CDC guidelines
  • Facial coverings
  • Use of the Hierarchy of Controls
  • COVID-19 symptom screening protocols
  • Development of a workplace response plan

“Employers must know the specific measures they are required to take to protect their workers and the public,” Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of NSC, said in a June 11 press release. “NSC has been an ardent, strong supporter of OSHA since the agency’s founding, and we have watched it take lifesaving actions in the midst of other crisis situations. We expect it will do so again, especially knowing that safety is vital to not only workers’ health, but also to our economic recovery as a nation.”

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