OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt Testifies on Capitol Hill

In testimony before a House committee, the acting OSHA chief made these points:

  • OSHA’s efforts to address COVID-19 have been its top priority since February.
  • OSHA’s initial response to the pandemic was to provide extensive guidance, often in conjunction with the CDC.
  • It is important to recognize OSHA has existing standards that serve as the basis for its COVID-19 enforcement. Those standards include rules regarding respiratory protection, personal protective equipment (PPE), eye and face protection, sanitation, and hazard communication. In addition, OSHA can use the general duty clause that holds employers responsible to provide a safe and healthy workplace to employees,
  • As of May 21, 2020, OSHA has received 4,268 COVID-19 safety and health complaints, of which 2,995 have been closed. In addition, OSHA has received 1,328 COVID-19 whistleblower complaints, of which there are 243 complaints currently being screened.
  • OSHA is increasing in-person inspections at all types of workplaces..
  • OSHA staff will continue to prioritize COVID-19 inspections, and will utilize all enforcement tools.
  • OSHA will not use guidance as a substitute for enforcement.

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