Unions are going after OSHA over the lack of an infectious disease standard to protect workers.
“A coalition of labor unions representing education, health care and municipal workers on Thursday sued the U.S. Secretary of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over the lack of a standard to protect workers from infectious diseases.
The suit, filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco by the American Federation of Teachers; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the Washington State Nurses Association; and the United Nurses Association of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, documents years of delays in creating a standard that would provide employers with guidance on handling infectious disease outbreaks.
The plaintiffs, claiming to have asked OSHA to create a standard more than a decade ago, wrote that the federal appeals court is ‘authorized to issue writs of mandamus’ to ‘compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed.’ The unions asked that the court ‘require OSHA to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking for the standard within 90 days of the Court’s mandamus order and to proceed on a priority, expedited basis to promptly issue a standard.’
‘Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, infectious diseases caused 1.7 million health care-associated infections every year in the United States,’ the suit states. ‘These infections are dangerous, and some can be fatal (e.g., tuberculosis, bacterial meningitis, or Ebola). OSHA acknowledged this risk and began the rulemaking process to issue a responsive standard.'”
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