Why Biden’s New OSHA Order is a Win for Safety Science
United States President Joe Biden released an Executive Order on January 21st, 2021, addressing a need to review, coordinate and prioritize worker protections for the COVID-19 pandemic.
In conjunction with key government agencies, there will be a review and re-issue of proposals and guidelines to set the safety standard for workers.
The order can be paraphrased as follows:
- Evaluate current protections in place to combat spread of COVID-19
- Review COVID-19 guideline enforcement efforts and modify accordingly
- Launch a national program to improve OSHA enforcement efforts for COVID-related infractions and worker protections
- Inform workers and their representatives of their rights under applicable law
- Ensure consistent implementation of revised standards across states, unions, community organizations
- Develop special COVID-19 guidance for specific industrial environments (e.g. mines, coal, metal or non-metal workers)
This executive order underscores the importance of safety measures as critical to the workplace — and prioritizes the broad dissemination of information to keep the workforce informed about their rights and responsibilities. Further, guidance will be tailored to each of the states, unions, community organizations and specific industrial environments where they matter most. This will have a positive impact on those respective safety cultures.
At StrongArm Technologies, we witness the power of socializing safety information as a way to make lasting change every day. We believe in the value of ongoing feedback and data transparency to improve the safety of the workplace, and appreciate the clear, science-forward language of the order, which reads, in part:
“The Federal Government must take swift action to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace. That will require issuing science-based guidance to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure, including with respect to mask-wearing; partnering with State and local governments to better protect public employees; enforcing worker health and safety requirements; and pushing for additional resources to help employers protect employees.”
The nature of unbiased scientific data informs everyone’s choices. A critical component of this is transparency. Transparency allows multiple stakeholders to discuss where risks lie, and how to solve them. Removing information asymmetry to make room for a consistent, transparent ‘safety language’ makes a substantive difference in the workplace.
Let the data lead.