The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today released an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The ETS applies only to healthcare workers and was released alongside updated general industry guidance. According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 50.3% of the adult population in the U.S. is fully vaccinated and studies have shown the U.S. has a low vaccine acceptance rate compared to other countries.
In response to the release of the ETS, the BlueGreen Alliance released the following statement from Executive Director Jason Walsh:
“Our nation’s healthcare workers have been placed in extremely dangerous situations throughout the course of this pandemic and we are pleased to see OSHA taking that seriously by releasing this standard. However, the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic are not limited to the healthcare field and this deadly virus has impacted workers in every industry in the nation, but has been particularly deadly to workers of color—who make up more than 40% of the frontline workforce. There are millions of people who will not be protected by this standard who work in food production, retail establishments, transportation, hotels, and restaurants who are required to be in close contact with other people who may or may not be vaccinated. The ETS released today is simply not sufficient and leaves millions of workers in harm’s way.
“We urge OSHA to expand the scope of this ETS to protect all workers in America.”