U.S. workplace safety agency steps up COVID-19 inspections

By Tom Hals (Reuters) - The U.S. Labor Department will expand inspections of businesses to reduce job-site hazards related to the new coronavirus as employees begin returning to work across the country, although the policy falls short of demands by worker advocates

Reuters May 21, 2020 00:07:42 IST
U.S. workplace safety agency steps up COVID-19 inspections

COVID-19 inspections" src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/themes/firstpost/images/220x220_Watermark.jpg" alt="US workplace safety agency steps up COVID19 inspections" width="300" height="225" />

By Tom Hals

(Reuters) - The U.S. Labor Department will expand inspections of businesses to reduce job-site hazards related to the new coronavirus as employees begin returning to work across the country, although the policy falls short of demands by worker advocates.

The revised policy, issued late on Tuesday, by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, expands inspections beyond those in healthcare facilities, which the agency said last month it was prioritizing to conserve resources.

OSHA also said it was requiring all businesses to record COVID-19 as a workplace illness where the employer could reasonably determine the infection occurred at work. In early April, OSHA had eased the recording requirements for businesses outside healthcare, first responders and prisons.

OSHA can fine employers for violating workplace safety rules, but only after it conducts inspections and investigations.

The revised policies stopped short of one of the key demands of unions, which have been lobbying lawmakers and have gone to court to try to force OSHA to adopt an emergency temporary standard for workplace safety regarding COVID-19 .

A COVID-19 standard would impose requirements on businesses and speed up the enforcement process for companies that don't comply, said David Muraskin of advocacy group Public Justice.

He said employers currently have a general duty to provide a safe workplace by applying guidance from various agencies, but those requirements are often softened with language such as "where possible" and "if feasible."

"That’s why people want actual standards," said Muraskin. "It has a real effect. These inspections are likely a way for the administration to claim it is doing something without actually doing anything.”

Public Justice represented a workers group that sued Smithfield Foods Inc [SFII.UL] to try to force the meat producer to boost safety at its Milan, Missouri, plant.

The case was quickly dismissed, but a similar case was brought against McDonald's Corp this week.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

Guinea president 'captured', govt dissolved, claim army putschists'; attack on presidential palace repulsed, say authorities
World

Guinea president 'captured', govt dissolved, claim army putschists'; attack on presidential palace repulsed, say authorities

Reports suggest that they captured President Alpha Conde and dissolved the government, bust the ground situation remains unclear

Cryptocurrency prices tumble and exchange trading falters as snags crop up
News & Analysis

Cryptocurrency prices tumble and exchange trading falters as snags crop up

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The price of cryptocurrencies plunged and crypto trading was delayed on Tuesday, a day in which El Salvador ran into snags as the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender. Shares of blockchain-related firms also fell as crypto stocks were hit by trading platform outages. But the major focus was on El Salvador, where the government had to temporarily unplug a digital wallet to cope with demand.

Ford poaches Apple's car project chief Doug Field
News & Analysis

Ford poaches Apple's car project chief Doug Field

By Joseph White and Sanjana Shivdas (Reuters) -The head of Apple Inc's car project, Doug Field, is going to work for Ford Motor Co to lead the automaker's advanced technology and embedded systems efforts, a hiring coup for Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley.