OSHA issues the Covid workplace safety rule, but only for health care

OSHA issues the Covid workplace safety rule, but only for health care

David Michaels, a head of OSHA during the Obama administration, said the C.D.C. guidance had made a broader OSHA rule more difficult to enact. “To justify an emergency standard, OSHA has to show there’s a grave danger,” Dr. Michaels said. “For that to happen, the C.D.C. would have needed to clarify its recommendation and say that for many workers, there remains a grave danger.” Without such clarification, said Dr. Michaels, now a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health, employer groups would probably have challenged any new OSHA rule in court, arguing that the C.D.C. guidance indicated that a rule was unnecessary.

Dr. Michaels said that the new standard was an overdue step but that it was disappointing that no Covid-specific standard was issued for industries like meatpacking, corrections and retail. “If exposure is not controlled in these workplaces, they will continue to be important drivers of infections,” he said.

Source

He said many meatpacking facilities, along with other workplaces, had been inspected under an OSHA program applying added scrutiny to high-risk industries. Jim Frederick, the acting head of OSHA, said on the call that the agency had power even without issuing broader Covid rules, through its so-called general duty clause, to enforce protections for workers outside the health care industry and that it would continue to do so.

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