Several meat companies have cited the executive order in court to challenge illness and death lawsuits related to Covid-19.
“I trust Biden won’t let that happen [United States Department of Agriculture] meddle on the meat company side to keep operations open when local health departments try to shut them down to protect workers and communities – which they did, “said Berkowitz, now on the left-wing National Employment Law Project .
In response to a request for comment on the EO, a White House spokesman told POLITICO: “The President has immediately taken steps to protect workers during this crisis, including the COVID Executive Order that the President signs on day one in office Has.” on the proposals in its coronavirus relief package calling on Congress to allocate more funding to OSHA inspectors and their enforcement.
Growing pressure: A union spokesman also told POLITICO that working groups are working with the administration on “a variety of priorities related to COVID safety and protecting meat packers,” including reversing the Trump Executive Order.
During a press briefing on Friday, those in charge of the federal government’s security guard admitted that they had heard concerns about the fate of the executive order, but warned that it could be “overlooked” by the public.
“It does not prohibit the shutdown of meat packers. As many of you know, some were even closed after the local health authorities issued this order, ”said Ann Rosenthal, a senior advisor at the labor protection agency. “We are looking into what we can do in the meat packing situation, but the withdrawal of the Executive Order is obviously beyond our ability at OSHA.”
New security recommendations: On Friday, OSHA updated its guidelines for employers to protect workers from the coronavirus.
The detailed, multi-step guide contains several instructions for employers on how to create a Covid-19 prevention plan, use social distance and physical barriers, and suggest protective equipment and wearing masks.
Biden administration officials say the new guidelines are stricter than the recommendations of Trump-led OSHA as they remove a “pyramid of risks” that recommended different levels of protection to certain workers. “We think everyone should be protected. Not that some workers should be better protected than others, ”said OSHA’s Rosenthal.
However, the guidelines do not impose safety requirements, as unions and Democrats have asked Biden to do.
Further changes will follow: OSHA officials say the guidelines are “a step” in responding to an executive order passed by President Biden last week. The executive action directed the agency to issue stricter guidelines on workplace safety from Covid-19 and to consider the need for a temporary emergency standard that includes mandatory precautions employers must take to protect their workers from exposure to Covid-19 protect.
Biden’s order directs the agency to decide on a temporary emergency standard by March 15.
“The guidance issued today is the first step in this process, but it certainly will not be the last step in the process,” said Jim Frederick, assistant general secretary for occupational health and safety.
What’s next: OSHA officials also say they are working to step up enforcement after taking the reins from the Trump administration and are trying to speed up the citation process and hire more inspectors.
Democrats and working groups criticized Trump-led OSHA for enforcing workplace safety during the pandemic, as the government took a far more relaxed approach than even previous Republican governments in using their special enforcement powers to punish companies that exposed workers to the virus expose.
“We are trying to streamline the process of issuing quotes. One of the major problems with the Trump administration was that there were so many levels of review for Covid-19-related quotes that they were generally published on the last day of the six – Monthly limitation period, “said Rosenthal.” We want to stop doing that. We want to bring them out in time, to impose a timely reduction obligation and to let people know in good time what is going on. “