AFGE congratulates Douglas Parker on being confirmed by the Senate to lead an important workplace safety agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The position, which was left vacant the entire Trump administration, is especially important during a public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.
In our meeting with OSHA’s Office of Federal Agency Programs this week, AFGE will be sharing with agency leadership our priorities for safer workplaces.
Here are 3 things we’re asking OSHA to focus on:
- Permanent infectious disease standard
The COVID-19 emergency temporary standard is only in effect for six months and will expire in December. We need these protections to remain in effect, but the permanent standard should be a more general standard to protect against both COVID and other infectious diseases.
- Complete work on workplace violence standard
We have pushed for this for years, first joining with other health care unions to petition OSHA to develop a standard to protect workers from violence at the workplace. OSHA has started working on such a standard, but work was halted during the previous administration.
- More proactive and targeted health and safety enforcement in federal agencies
We generally don’t see OSHA inspections unless workers and locals file complaints, and even then it may not be a workplace inspection but a review of documents.
Other areas that can be improved:
- Worker/Union involvement in OSHA activities including union notification in enforcement cases
- Recordkeeping to include better tracking of ergonomic injuries. This information is important in preventing occupational injuries and illnesses. For federal employees, there is even less data available which makes it difficult to analyze and to identify trends in injuries and illnesses.