Levin Demands Answers on Worker Safety from OSHA After Explosive Reports

December 9, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09), Vice Chair of the House Education & Labor Committee, along with 38 members of Congress, today sent a letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) demanding answers on OSHA’s handling of COVID-19 workplace safety and retaliation complaints. Recent analysis from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and the Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has shown shockingly low COVID-related worker complaint resolution and a dramatic decrease in staffing at OSHA since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Published reports indicate that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has failed to investigate the majority of complaints related to workplace safety and COVID-19, including retaliation claims,” the lawmakers wrote. “At the same time, the timeliness of OSHA investigations has worsened, potentially delaying the abatement of serious worker safety violations in the midst of this pandemic. Given that OSHA is the frontline defense for worker safety in this country, we write to seek greater clarity regarding these distressing reports.”

NELP’s report finds that fewer than two percent of COVID-related worker complaints have been resolved since the beginning of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Department of Labor’s OIG found that full-time staffing has decreased since March of 2020, while the timeliness of complaint investigations has worsened.

“As this once in a lifetime public health crisis continues to worsen and put this country’s frontline workers at tremendous personal risk, it is more important than ever that OSHA fulfill its duty to ensure that employers are keeping their workers safe from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19,” the lawmakers continued. “Further, OSHA must make sure workers can submit complaints without fear of retaliation when they do not feel safe. We are concerned that, without a properly functioning enforcement agency and a lack of a nationally enforceable OSHA COVID-19 standard, this country’s frontline workers will be forced to continue risking their lives for their paychecks. This is both a moral failing and a grave danger to our communities. If we allow COVID-19 to run roughshod through American workplaces, an end to this pandemic will remain out of reach.”

Read the full letter here.