On President Biden’s Executive Order to Protect Workers from COVID-19

The following is a statement from Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project:

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) applauds President Biden’s new executive order on protecting worker health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. With today’s announcement, the Biden administration is prioritizing protections in the workplace that our movement has advocated for—a hopeful sign that worker safety and health can be increasingly strengthened.

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“By directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to release updated guidance that employers must follow and by beginning to enforce the law, this order will help save lives and mitigate against the spread of COVID-19. This order is a total reversal of the Trump administration’s dangerous strategy to sideline OSHA during the worst public health and occupational health crisis since the agency was created 50 years ago.

“Due to the negligence of employers and the failures of the Trump administration, workplaces have been a significant source of COVID-19 spread, especially in industries where workers are underpaid. Workers in meat and poultry processing are among those who have suffered most greatly. This order will have a significant impact on improving the health and lives of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and immigrant workers who are disproportionately represented in many of the essential industries with the highest risk of spread of COVID-19.

“The order also calls on OSHA to quickly decide whether it should issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers—a move that NELP has advocated for since the beginning of the pandemic. We are hopeful that OSHA will heed this call and promulgate this much needed standard immediately.”

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