In its annual report, one of the largest union organizations in the U.S. is calling on federal agencies to address COVID-19, workplace violence and several other hazards.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) 2022 Death on the Job report asks federal agencies to do more for workers in several specific areas.
COVID-19 standard for healthcare
The organization wants OSHA to issue a permanent COVID-19 healthcare standard to protect healthcare and other workers in congregate settings.
AFL-CIO says this would need to be fully enforced by:
- developing a proactive enforcement plan across industries
- fully investigating complaints
- performing on-site inspections
- issuing violations and penalties that reflect the size and scope of the real problem and that deter other employers, and
- ensuring workers’ rights to report unsafe working conditions and refuse dangerous work.
Another hazard that needs addressed is workplace violence, “a growing and serious threat, particularly to women workers and those in health care and social services sectors.”
The report states that OSHA should develop and issue a workplace violence standard, while the Senate should pass the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act to ensure OSHA creates the standard.
Updated chemical hazard standards
Standards for chemical hazards are obsolete and must be updated, the report states.
To do this, the Environmental Protection Agency should coordinate with OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to implement new toxic chemicals reform laws and take action to address risks to workers and the public.
In the report, MSHA is called upon to focus its attention on addressing mines with repeat violations and taking stronger enforcement actions against mines with patterns of violations.
Rules for coal dust must be fully enforced and new rules on silica and proximity detection for mobile equipment also need to be created.
Other issues to address
The report also asks OSHA to:
- finalize its proposed standard on electronic injury reporting, make more of that data public and fully enforce anti-retaliation protections for workers who report injuries
- issue final rules for the emergency response, heat illness prevention and infectious disease standards, and
- begin new initiatives to address musculoskeletal disorders and combustible dust.