Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Worker Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Infectious Diseases | JAMA | JAMA Network
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September 16, 2020

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Worker Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, Washington, DC
  • 2Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2020;324(14):1389-1390. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.16343

With the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the US is facing an unprecedented, massive worker safety crisis. Thousands of workers are at risk for workplace exposure to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection as they provide care for patients with COVID-19 or perform other “essential” services and daily functions and interact with other workers or the public. By law, employers in the US are required to provide workplaces free of recognized serious hazards. Enforcement of this law is the responsibility of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While OSHA could be making an important contribution to reversing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and mitigate risk to workers, their families, and communities, the federal government has not fully utilized OSHA’s public safety authority in its efforts to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

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