• Thu. Oct 29th, 2020

Thursday Night Owls: Half-century-old OSHA is supposed to protect workers. In pandemic, it went AWOL

ByAdiantku

Oct 9, 2020

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week

At The American Prospect, Bryce Covert writes—How OSHA Went AWOL During the Pandemic:

When workers at the Maid-Rite Specialty Foods meatpacking plant in Dunmore, Pennsylvania feared that a lack of safety precautions against COVID-19 put them in imminent danger, they turned to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for help, filing two separate complaints. In one of them, a worker wrote, “I’m scared to go to work, every day, I’m risking my life.”

But when their complaints yielded no more than a phone call and email exchange between OSHA and the company, rather than an inspection, they filed a lawsuit against the agency. Only then did OSHA agree to send out an inspector. Breaking with normal procedure, which is not to give advance notice of their impending arrival, however, the inspector called the company the day before to say that she was coming.

In sworn declarations, workers later said that the company made changes ahead of the inspection, spacing workers further apart and having them pull their face shields down. Once the inspector left, the company resumed its previous practices.

The experience of the Maid-Rite workers typified what critics see as OSHA’s lackadaisical and business-friendly approach to the virus that has ravaged many workplaces. […]

Since the pandemic began, OSHA, whose mission is “to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women,” reports that it has received over 10,000 complaints from workers concerned about a lack of protections against the coronavirus.

But until early September, six months into the crisis, the agency had issued citations to just two employers, requiring them to adopt safer practices, according to available OSHA records. As of September 4, it had conducted just 199 inspections in response to complaints, and it’s already closed more than 8,500 of them without taking further action. OSHA has since cited more than two dozen other employers for COVID-related violations, nearly all of them hospitals or long-term care homes.

TOP COMMENTS 

QUOTATION

“It is fatal for any body of workers to have forever hanging from the fringes of its skirts other bodies on a level just below its own; for that means continual pressure downward, additional difficulty to be overcome in the struggle to maintain reasonable rates of wages.”
          ~~Florence Kelley (1898)

TWEET OF THE DAY

Let’s get something straight: Republicans have ALREADY packed the Supreme Court. They stole the 2000 election and Merrick Garland’s seat, and now they are trying to push a confirmation through during an election. Biden and Democrats have every right to unpack it if they win.

— Adam Best (@adamcbest) October 8, 2020

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2008—The Cowardice of Sarah Palin:

I suppose it should go without saying that if Sarah Palin has been reduced to speaking to hard-right audiences, but can’t do any nonpartisan interviews because they’re confident she’ll blow it, and can’t appear without John McCain because he may have to bail her out if things get dicey, and generally can’t do anything but stay in her little anti-media box, coming out twice a day like the little bird in a cuckoo clock to yell a few phrases into a crowd and leave again, she’s all but useless to her own campaign. Her favorable ratings have been diving. She’s still got Troopergate in the works. There’s still gawd knows how much embarrassing tape from her Katie Couric interview, which is probably going to keep being dribbled out from now until the election. So far, she’s been making her most indelible American impressions on the pages of the National Enquirer.

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