2020 was a year of continuous change. However, if it taught the U.S. Virgin Islands anything, it is that they have the ability to adapt. Adapt is what the Virgin Islands Safety In Paradise (SIP) OSHA Consultation Program did as COVID-19 surfaced and shut down services and businesses across the nation.
Faced with concerns of the pandemic, the SIP Consultation program had to think differently at a time when “social distancing” had become the new normal. The Consultation program also faced additional challenges with its small staff. It strategically capitalized on the use of technology and turned to virtual platforms to provide services across the territory during the travel restrictions.
The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration is now overseeing worker retaliation complaints filed under two new whistleblower statutes – the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
Under the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act, OSHA will investigate individual whistleblower’s complaints of retaliation for reporting criminal antitrust violations to their superiors or the federal government; or for showing cause, testifying or participating in, or otherwise assisting an investigation or proceeding related to antitrust law violations.
In response to President Biden’s executive order on protecting worker health and safety, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a national emphasis program focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.
“This deadly pandemic has taken a staggering toll on U.S. workers and their families. We have a moral obligation to do what we can to protect workers, especially for the many who have no other protection,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. “This program seeks to substantially reduce or eliminate coronavirus exposure for workers in companies where risks are high, and to protect workers who raise concerns that their employer is failing to protect them from the risks of exposure.”
This Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) provides new instructions and guidance to Area Offices and Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) for handling COVID-19-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports. On the date this memorandum is issued, the previous memorandum on this topic will be rescinded, and this new Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan will go into and remain in effect until further notice. This guidance is intended to be time-limited to the current COVID-19 public health crisis. Please frequently check OSHA’s webpage at www.osha.gov/coronavirus for updates.
OSHA’s priority is to use its resources to eliminate and control workplace exposures to SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), the cause of COVID-19, and to provide OSHA enforcement personnel with the protections necessary to allow them to safely perform inspections. Most workplaces within the scope of OSHA’s authority have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some workplaces have maintained operations throughout the pandemic, while others have not. OSHA’s mission is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women.
Donjon Shipbuilding & Repair (DSR) is a shipbuilding and repair facility located in Erie, Pennsylvania. One of only two operational dry docks on the Great Lakes capable of dry docking 1,000-foot long vessels, it is used to build, repair, convert, dry dock, and repower ships. After acquiring the shipyard in 2010, DSR set out to build a strong safety culture among its employees. DSR appointed a full time safety manager and started a workplace safety committee in 2012. In 2013, the safety committee received certification under the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Workplace Safety Committee Certification program, earning the company a five percent workers’ compensation premium discount.
In 2014, DSR contacted Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) OSHA Consultation program.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Chicago Regional Office and the Consulate General of Ecuador in Chicago (the Consulate), hereinafter referred to individually as “Participant” and collectively as “the Participants”;
Recognizing the joint commitment to protect the well-being of Ecuadorian workers in the United States acknowledged in the Letter of Arrangement between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States of America and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Integration of Ecuador, signed at Washington, D.C., on August 26th, 2016; and
Recognizing that OSHA’s Alliance Program provides for the establishment of cooperative relationships for purposes such as training and education, outreach and communication, and promoting a national dialogue on workplace safety and health;
Intend to form an Alliance to achieve the following…