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Lawmakers Press Labor Agency on Covid Workplace Rule (Correct)

April 23, 2021, 4:30 PM; Updated: April 26, 2021, 5:04 PM

House Democrats seeking answers on a delayed Covid-19 workplace safety rule are asking Biden administration officials to appear at a subcommittee hearing next week.

The hearing reflects mounting frustrations among lawmakers over the wait for a virus workplace standard three months after President Joe Biden, in an executive order, directed the Department of Labor to consider issuing an emergency rule to protect workers from Covid-19 on the job.

Virus Workplace Rule Still MIA Three Months After Biden Order

The Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Workplace Protections will hold a hearing April 30 with officials from the DOL and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. A committee aide said it’s still being confirmed which officials will attend.

A U.S. Postal Service worker wearing a protective mask and gloves delivers Amazon boxes in San Francisco on Oct. 13, 2020.
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Biden’s executive order, issued on his first full day in office, gave DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration a March 15 deadline to release the rule if the agency determined one was necessary. This month, a DOL spokesperson said Secretary Marty Walsh had directed that OSHA’s underlying assessment of Covid-19 be “updated to reflect the latest scientific analysis” as part of the rulemaking.

Lawmakers and worker advocates have criticized the delay. No federal statute requires employers to enact precautions protecting workers against the airborne transmission of pathogens. The absence of an enforceable safety standard was a key factor in OSHA’s inability to protect workers, the Labor Department’s inspector general reported earlier this year.

(Corrects title of Occupational Safety and Health Administration in April 23 story. Also clarifies that White House directed agency to issue rule by March 15 if it was deemed necessary.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Kreighbaum in Washington at akreighbaum@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com; Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com

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