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OSHA Coronavirus Rule Mandate Reintroduced by House Democrats

March 23, 2020, 8:14 PM

House Democrats are making a second try at forcing OSHA to enact an emergency rule aimed at protecting health-care workers from coronavirus infections.

The House version of the next coronavirus stimulus bill includes a provision mandating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issue a rule requiring health-care providers to institute infection prevention programs, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

The Senate is also drafting bill and it has failed to win enough support to pass. A draft version of the Senate Covid-19 bill contained no OSHA rule requirement and set aside $10 million for Labor Department enforcement agencies.

“We provide desperately needed funds to care for those who are sick and assure our providers have the personal protection equipment that they need and require OSHA to enforce our stronger worker protections,” Pelosi said Monday.

The final text of the bill wasn’t released.

A draft version of the House bill posted by NPR Monday would give OSHA and Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia seven days after the bill’s enactment to issue the rule. The early March proposal gave officials 30 days.

The draft version would expand the workers covered to include firefighters, emergency responders, and other occupations considered to be at “elevated risk” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or OSHA.

$30 Million for OSHA

The draft bill also calls for allocating OSHA an additional $30 million through fiscal year 2021 for training, education, and enforcement related to Covid-19. OSHA’s fiscal 2020 budget is $583 million.

The House considered a similar mandate in early March, but the provision was dropped from the final version of the bill (H.R.6201) passed on March 14.

At that time Pelosi said a new version of the OSHA mandate could be added to the next bill.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at BRolfsen@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com; Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com