The US Department of Labor Office of Inspection General (OIG) reported that a study of OSHA’s actions during the COVID-19 Pandemic put workers’ safety at risk.
WHY OIG CONDUCTED THE AUDIT
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised specific concerns about the health and safety of workers and the measures OSHA has taken to ensure employers are mitigating employees’ risk of exposure to the virus at workplaces.
Due to the pandemic, OSHA has received a surge of complaints in a matter of months, while garnering the attention of Congress, labor unions, and media with requests to act swiftly on behalf of the 130 million workers at more than 8 million worksites nationwide whom OSHA is responsible for protecting.
WHAT OIG DID
We conducted this audit to answer the following question:
What plans and guidance has OSHA developed to address challenges created by COVID-19, and to what extent have these challenges affected OSHA’s ability to protect the safety of workers and its workforce?
To answer this question, we reviewed guidance, public laws, and state standards; conducted interviews; and researched complaint and enforcement data.
READ THE FULL REPORT
OSHA has taken a series of actions to address its challenges and has issued guidance in response to the pandemic. However, increased complaints, reduced inspections, and most inspections not being conducted onsite subject employees to greater safety risk.
Since the start of the pandemic, OSHA has received a sudden influx of complaints, and as a means of reducing person-to-person contact, has reduced the number of its inspections, particularly onsite inspections. Compared to a similar period in 2019, OSHA received
15 percent more complaints in 2020, but performed 50 percent fewer inspections. As a result, there is an increased risk that OSHA is not providing the level of protection that workers need at various job sites. During the pandemic, OSHA issued 295 violations for 176 COVID-19 related inspections, while 1,679 violations for 756 COVID-19 related inspections were issued under State Plans.
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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.
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LinkedIn Group: Injured Workers Law & Advocacy Group
Author: "Workers' Compensation Law" Thomson-Reuters