WASHINGTON – Today, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO (AFGE) National President Everett Kelley released the following statement after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the withdrawal of the Health Care Worker Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS):
“The Biden administration’s decision to withdraw the emergency temporary standard is a terrible blow to health care workers throughout the nation.
“The ETS not only protected workers by mandating that employers provide personal protective equipment, physical barriers, ventilation, and require screening of each individual who enters the facility, it also provided paid leave to workers who must quarantine due to infections or exposure – which was critical to ensuring that workers stay home when they are sick.
“While we applaud OSHA for working on a permanent infectious disease standard, something our union has long fought for, we know that finalizing such a standard will take years – which is time our front-line workers do not have as the Omicron variant continues to surge, resulting in thousands of new infections each day.
“Despite rising vaccination and booster rates, we are still in a health care crisis. This decision is a step backwards for health care workers who are now entering year three of risking their health in service of the American public.
“The Biden administration must put worker safety first and reissue an emergency temporary standard that protects not only health care workers, but all essential front-line workers.”