Nurses Union Asks Court to Make COVID Protections Permanent

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Labor organizations today took action to force employers to protect nurses and health care workers from COVID-19.

Unions representing the workers filed a petition demanding the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit order the labor department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a permanent standard of protective measure for the workers.

The petitioners include AFL-CIO; American Federation of Teachers; National Nurses United; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; as well as some of the nation’s other major nursing unions, including the New York State Nurses Association and Pennsylvania Association of Nurses and Allied Professionals.

The unions took this legal action after the labor department failed to make permanent the emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 that took effect June 21, according to a release. Without the protections of a permanent standard, the health and well-being of nurses, other health care workers, patients, and the public are in grave danger, according to a press release from the labor groups.

The unions petitioned the court to issue a writ of mandamus ordering OSHA to issue a permanent standard for health care occupational exposure to COVID-19, and to retain and enforce the June 21 emergency temporary standard until it is properly superseded by the permanent standard. 

The petition states that OSHA’s failure to retain the emergency temporary standard and adopt a permanent rule violates the Occupational Safety and Health Act. According to the petition, “when OSHA determines an emergency situation exists (as it did here) and issues an emergency standard, that emergency standard must stay in effect until a final rule is issued, which must be done within six months of publication of the emergency standard.”

Nurses note that the grave danger that led to issuance of the emergency temporary standard not only remains but has dramatically increased with the Omicron variant and current surge in infections and hospitalizations. 

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.