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House Democrats urge OSHA to reconsider plan to let ETS on COVID-19 for health care workers lapse

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Washington — Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Alma Adams (D-NC) are calling on the Department of Labor and OSHA to reverse course on the agency’s plan to withdraw the non-recordkeeping portions of its emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 focused on health care workers.

In a letter dated Jan. 15 and addressed to President Joe Biden and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Scott, chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Adams, chair of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, write that they’re “alarmed by the decision to allow the ETS to lapse, because it forces a return to heavy reliance on the General Duty Clause, existing respiratory standards and voluntary guidance – the very policies the department previously explained are inadequate to protect health care workers.”

 

The letter continues: “The grave danger of COVID-19 has not disappeared, and there is still an urgent need for enforceable standards to protect health care workers. The department has an obligation to revisit its announced intention to withdraw the ETS, restore the ETS immediately and move expeditiously to publish a final standard protective of workers.”

OSHA originally adopted the ETS in June. In a Dec. 27 statement, however, the agency announced it’s withdrawing the non-recordkeeping portions of the ETS, but intends to “work expeditiously” on issuing a permanent standard.

In a Jan. 11 letter addressed to Biden, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and 114 other members of Congress call on OSHA to issue a permanent standard for COVID-19 focused on health care workers. The lawmakers claim that these workers are “exhausted and scared” and “beyond their breaking points.”

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