States Resist Adapting Worker Safety Rules to Pandemic; Workers Don’t Mind Wearing Safety Devices

By January 30, 2021 No Comments

Many states resist adapting worker safety rules to pandemic

Most states have not issued COVID-19 requirements for workplaces, according to Stateline News. Some cite existing rules or executive orders for enforcement, but workers’ rights advocates say many states have not been aggressive about inspecting workplaces or issuing citations, despite an overwhelming number of complaints, leaving workers in danger.

Twenty-nine states are under OSHA jurisdiction for private sector workers. The 21 states with their own workplace safety agencies must meet or exceed OSHA’s standards, but haven’t been given a strong federal benchmark to follow. President-elect Joe Biden has said he will ask OSHA to reassess its decision not to issue emergency rules.

Four states — California, Michigan, Oregon and Virginia — have issued emergency standards and have changed their outreach and enforcement tactics to work better during the pandemic. Those rules cover things like testing, case reporting, personal protective equipment, physical distancing and ventilation.

Several other states are enforcing executive orders from a governor or a general duty clause that requires workplaces be “free from recognized hazards.” But worker advocates say even those requirements don’t go far enough.

Even in states with strict workplace rules, officials acknowledge they can’t conduct on-site inspections for every complaint. California, which has the most robust COVID-19 safety standards in the country, has gone into “triage” mode for dealing with complaints, said Doug Parker, chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, reserving inspections for the most serious cases.

Wearable safety devices OK with most workers

A majority of Americans are willing to try out wearable devices that provide safety benefits, according to a survey from tech company Nymi in Toronto, as reported by

Seventy-seven per cent say they would wear an employer-issued wearable on their wrist if it provides benefits such as social distancing reminders and eliminating the need for passwords or access key cards.

“Wearable technologies play an important role both in how employers ensure safe, touchless returns to workplaces and incorporate more efficient ways of completing daily tasks, such as logging into work systems through the tap of a band,” says Chris Sullivan, CEO of Nymi.

The top reason why some respondents are not onboard with wearable devices? Privacy, according to the Nymi survey of 1,984 respondents conducted Nov. 13 to 17, 2020.

More than half (56 per cent) indicated that a desire to keep their information private would be a barrier to usage, while 44 per cent felt their company might not use their data responsibly.

Wearable technology is the future of workplace safety, says Melissa Alvarez, growth marketing associate at RapidSOS in New York, an emergency technology company. 

“New health and safety features alert users of irregularities and health concerns through features like ECG tests, fall detection, and step trackers. In the case of a life-threatening situation, wearable devices can show first responders this real-time, vital data from wearables before they arrive at the scene of emergencies,” she says.

OSHA announces $3,849,222 in coronavirus violations

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Dec. 24, 2020, OSHA has issued citations arising from 295 inspections for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $3,849,222.

OSHA inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:

Comply with the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970

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