Lindsey Tanita

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The coronavirus pandemic exposed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) severe lack of commitment and resources to enforce standards aimed at providing a safe and healthful workplace for millions of workers who are at an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 every time they step foot into the workplace. We’ve seen nurses treating COVID-19 patients pleading for personal protective equipment all across the county,1 a bus driver in Detroit dying of COVID-19 after complaining about lack of protections from a coughing passenger,2 and more than three hundred workers testing positive for COVID-19 in one Los Angeles factory, even after the CEO said that precautions for preventing the spread of the coronavirus were implemented.3 The simple truth is that OSHA needs help to make sure that every worker is protected in the workplace from exposure to the coronavirus, instead of relying on good faith efforts of employers to ensure worker health and safety. This paper proposes an actionable solution that relies on existing resources and infrastructure to provide the much-needed aid that OSHA in the following three steps. Step one, the creation of workplace safety and health standards that specifically address the unique nature of COVID-19. Step two, local departments of health and departments overseeing building code compliance take over the task of inspecting compliance with the newly-created standards. Step three, capitalizing on a new form of enforcement, consumer choice, through a visible and easily-distinguishable sign to signify a workplaces’ compliance with the standards and posting the status of a workplaces’ compliance in a centralized database and on widely-used apps.