WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 22, 2021) — President Joe Biden on Thursday signed an Executive Order directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to prepare emergency temporary standards related to COVID-19, calling on the agencies to issue them by March 15 if they are determined to be necessary.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka praised the order and released the following statement:
“By issuing this overdue and desperately needed Executive Order on his first full day in office, President Biden is clearly prioritizing strong COVID-19 protections for working people. We applaud this swift action that will save lives and protect workers who face dangerous conditions daily while serving our communities. Strong enforceable standards would require employers to develop workplace safety plans, implement science-based protection measures, train workers and report outbreaks. It is a key piece of Biden’s national strategy to ramp up COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and the production of personal protective equipment so we can beat this virus once and for all.
“The AFL-CIO and our affiliates have been calling for a workplace standard since March, and this order is a critical first step to a comprehensive plan that will keep us safe on the job. Now, we must win strong safety and health provisions in the next coronavirus relief package and rebuild OSHA, MSHA and the entire Labor Department with a renewed commitment to workplace safety.”
Today’s related news:
► From the Washington Post — Biden order seeks stronger workplace safety rules, signaling a more worker friendly approach — President Biden signed an executive order Thursday to direct federal regulators to issue stronger safety guidance for workplaces operating in the midst of the pandemic. The executive order on “Protecting Worker Health and Safety” seeks to reorient worker safety guidelines and enforcement at the Labor Department’s workplace safety division — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
► From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — Biden picks former United Steelworkers safety official to lead OSHA — Biden has tapped James S. Frederick, a Pittsburgh-area workplace safety advocate who worked for the United Steelworkers for more than two decades, to lead the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, signaling tougher federal enforcement on employers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
► From the Washington Post — Biden signs order requiring masks on planes, buses, trains and at airports — His action comes on the heels of a Wednesday order — his first as president — requiring masks on federal property. Together, the two orders come as close to a national mask mandate as his federal powers may allow, leaving it to states and municipalities to require residents to wear masks at a local level. “It’s about damn time our government lived up to its obligations to public health,” said John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO.