Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Department of Veterans Affairs under OSHA investigation "failed to keep workers free from known hazards"

Department of Labor to investigate VA over staff exposure to coronavirus

Connecting Vets
Abbie Bennett
April 17, 2020
The union accused VA of further violating OSHA standards by failing to provide workers with N95 respirators "and other necessary personal protective equipment (PPE)" as well as "failing to isolate suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients and refusing to provide COVID-19 testing to employees who have been exposed to those known or suspected of having the virus."
After a union representing millions of Department of Veterans Affairs employees accused the VA of "endangering" veterans and medical staff during the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Labor said it will investigate.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent a letter to the American Federation of Government Employees' National Veterans Affairs Council President Alma Lee saying that after the union filed a complaint on behalf of 260,000 VA employees, an investigation is planned.

OSHA "will be initiating an investigation concerning worker exposure to patients with COVID-19," the letter read.

The letter was written by Loren Sweatt, principal deputy assistant secretary for OSHA, who added that "I am contacting the VA's designated safety and health official" about the allegations.

The union's complaint alleged VA "failed to keep workers free from known hazards" and said the agency directed staff who had come in contact with or been in close proximity to people with virus symptoms, to report to work "without regard to the 14-day self-quarantine guidelines" issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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