Demand Universal Protections for Health Workers | Physicians for Human Rights

Demand Universal Protections for Health Workers

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Certified medical assistant Lakietha Flournoy puts on personal protective equipment as she gets ready to conduct tests for COVID-19 at a drive-up testing station in the parking lot of UNLV Medicine.
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In the absence of uniform guidance from the Trump administration during the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress MUST prioritize new federal standards to protect workers in health care settings across the country. Now is the time for Congress to step up and demonstrate its leadership by instituting wide-ranging protections for all workers in health care settings who continue to serve the public on the front lines of this global health emergency.

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Your Message
Congress must prioritize federal standards to protect health workers.
Dear Member of Congress,

As Congress considers a new COVID-19 response legislative package, I join Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) in urging you to prioritize new federal standards to protect workers in health care settings across the country. In the absence of uniform guidance from the Trump administration during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that Congress legislates clearly defined and universally enforceable workplace safety standards.

To date, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has only issued suggested voluntary standards for worker protections in health care settings, which leaves these standards unenforceable. As a result, state and local governments have been left to set and enforce a patchwork of workplace health protection standards. Without strong uniform public health and safety standards or enforcement, we have seen the virus resurge and spread across wide swaths of the country.

As you may know, some states have implemented strong worker protections through various forms of OSHA-approved State Plans (https://www.osha.gov/stateplans) that meet or exceed federal OSHA standards. The 2009 California OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standards (https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/5199.html) is one such example that sets a strong standard for worker protections which Congress should seek to emulate on a federal level. These guidelines must set clear standards for: social distancing; face masks; hand sanitizing, washing, and gloves; regular workplace disinfection; increased ventilation; and notification of infections, among other key provisions. These standards should also be accompanied by protection from discrimination, intimidation, or dismissal of health workers for speaking out about dangerous conditions to management, co-workers, the government, or the public. Likewise, health workers should not face retribution for bringing additional personal protection to work when employers are unable to provide adequate personal protective equipment.

At no other point in recent memory has Congress’s role in protecting workers in health care settings across the country been as vital as it is during this pandemic. Now is the time for Congress to step up and demonstrate its leadership by instituting comprehensive, enforceable, and uniform protections for all workers in health care settings who continue to serve the public on the front lines of this global health emergency.

Sincerely,

[First Name] [Last Name]