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Biden Administration Signals Strong Support for Worker Safety

Jan 21, 2021
Essential grocery worker checking out productsThe new Biden Administration has taken several actions expected to improve COVID-19 protections for workers across the country and accelerate the country's response to the devastating pandemic.

President Biden issued an Executive Order, Protecting Worker Health and Safety, directing OSHA to issue updated guidance on COVID-19 workplace protections. According to the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, the administration expects the guidance to be released in the coming weeks.

"It is critical that the federal government protect the health and safety of America's workers and take swift action to protect workers from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace," the administration says. "They should not have to wonder whether they will make it home from work safely or whether they will bring the virus to their loved ones or their communities."

The executive order also directs OSHA to determine the need for emergency temporary standards and to launch a national emphasis program to focus resources on workplace violations that endanger the largest number of workers. Several states, including   VirginiaCalifornia and Oregon, have issued emergency temporary standards related to COVID-19.

As acting OSHA administrator and deputy assistant secretary, Jim Frederick, a former United Steelworkers safety official, an ASSP member and a frequent contributor to ANSI/ASSP consensus standards, will play a key role in the agency's response to the executive order. ASSP joined AIHA and NSC in supporting Frederick's appointment to the new post. 

"Our organizations . . . recognize that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue and believe that achieving the mission of OSHA of creating safe and healthful working conditions for workers requires strong, positive leadership," the groups said. "Mr. Frederick is a leader who would enable OSHA to provide employers with the information, tools and resources to keep workers safe and healthy."

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