April 29, 2021

On Workers' Memorial Day, OSHA Provides Update on COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards

OSHA has sent draft emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for review, the agency announced in a press release commemorating Workers’ Memorial Day. OSHA says that it worked with science-agency partners, economic agencies, and others in the U.S. government to “get the proposed emergency standard right.” An executive order issued by President Joe Biden during his first week in office directed OSHA to issue an ETS by March 15 if the agency determined it to be necessary. Earlier this month, Bloomberg Law reported that OSHA’s ETS was on hold at the request of the new Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh. Bloomberg Law reported that a Labor Department spokesperson explained that Walsh “ordered a rapid update based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis and the latest information regarding the state of vaccinations and the variants.”

This announcement comes during the same week that the Department of Labor observed Workers’ Memorial Day. Every year on April 28, the United States recognizes those who lost their lives due to work-related injuries and diseases. A new Workers’ Memorial Day page on OSHA’s website is intended to “lift up the voices of workers who lost their lives on the job.” A virtual Workers’ Memorial Wall is a tribute to those who died due to work-related incidents. The Department of Labor’s Workers’ Memorial Day Program, which was held virtually on April 28, is available to view on YouTube.

“This year, we also recognize that, more than a year into the pandemic, every day essential workers, many of whom are people of color and immigrants, have put their lives on the line during the COVID-19 pandemic,” OSHA’s website says. “They were healthcare workers, grocery workers, meatpackers, nurses, delivery drivers, farmworkers, law enforcement officers, teachers, and sanitation workers.”

OSHA’s press release describes additional efforts related to worker health and safety protections, including $100 million in additional funding for the agency in the American Rescue Plan of 2021 and increasing staff at MSHA to expand efforts to protect mine workers.

For more information, see OSHA’s website and AIHA’s Workers’ Memorial Day page.