Committee Leaders to Biden Administration: Preserve Safety Protections for Health Care Workers

Chairman Scott, Subcommittee Chairwoman Adams Call on Administration to Reverse Plans to Remove Emergency Safety Standard Protecting Health Care Workers from COVID-19

WASHINGTON – In a letter to President Biden and Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) and Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairwoman Alma Adams (NC-12) urged the Administration to reverse its plans to remove an emergency workplace safety standard that protects health care workers from COVID-19. The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) – which was issued by the Biden Administration in June 2021 – requires health care facilities to take necessary steps to protect health care workers from the grave danger of COVID-19.

On December 27, the Labor Department announced its intentions to withdraw the ETS while it worked on a permanent safety standard, which will likely take months or years to complete and implement.

“We write to object to the Administration’s announced intention to withdraw the June 2021 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) protecting health care workers from COVID-19,” wrote Chairman Scott and Rep. Adams. “The risks these workers face are so severe that we call on you to reconsider that decision and, following the reinstatement of the protections under the ETS, move with maximum urgency to a final standard that will secure the protections of the ETS for some of the nation’s most essential workers.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 860,000 health care workers have contracted COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. And more than 3,400 health care workers have died.

“The grave danger of COVID-19 has not disappeared, and there is still an urgent need for enforceable standards to protect health care workers,” the Members wrote.

In previous instances where the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an ETS before adopting a permanent safety standard – including workplace protections from Asbestos and other known carcinogens – the Department maintained protections for workers by keeping the ETS in place until the final standard was enacted.

“Congress never contemplated, and past history does not show, that grave dangers would be allowed to remain unmitigated while an emergency persists,” the Members wrote.

The letter builds on Chairman Scott and Rep. Adams’ previous efforts to secure protections for workers throughout the pandemic.

To read the letter, click here.