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OSHA, Workplace Safety and Whistleblower Claims Team Co-Chair Gina Fonte was quoted in a Bloomberg Law article about the possibility of a COVID-19 emergency temporary standard being implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to safeguard workers. The standard has not been determined necessary yet, but if enforced, would have a cascading effect on state and local workplace protections enacted amid the pandemic. The 22 states and territories with federally approved worker safety agencies would have to adopt the OSHA standard or measures that are at least as effective. For states that don’t have federally approved agencies, OSHA will continue to be the primary worker safety agency and if a federal regulation is issued, the federal regulation is the law in the workplace.
OSHA hasn’t said whether it has decided a virus standard is justified, but Ms. Fonte believes a federal emergency rule “could be well received by states because it would provide a national, uniform and consistent standard. States wouldn’t be left trying to figure it out on their own.”