The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) congratulated Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, reported to be President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to become the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

“Marty Walsh worked closely with MassCOSH, labor unions and community groups to protect workers and make jobs safer in Boston and Massachusetts,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of National COSH and former executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH). “As a state representative, he led efforts to ban hazardous, combustible chemicals which were causing fires and killing workers. As mayor of Boston, he worked with labor unions and safety advocates to pass a new ordinance holding city contractors accountable, after the tragic -- and preventable -- drowning of two workers in a construction trench.”

“As a lifelong trade unionist who knows firsthand the importance of job safety, Mayor Walsh will urgently need to put his experience to work to confront one of the most crucial tasks of the new administration: Protecting workers from the risks of a deadly virus,” said Goldstein-Gelb. 

“Worker health and safety protections need drastic improvement in the United States,” said Peter Dooley, CIH, safety and health senior project coordinator at National COSH. “Fatal and serious injuries and illnesses for workers have been on the rise in the last five years. And OSHA has been missing in action during the COVID-19 pandemic, the most severe workplace health crisis of our lifetimes. Worker health and safety must become a real enforceable human right for every worker in every workplace.”

“It’s great news that a vaccine will be  available, but we still desperately need smart, strategic public health interventions to control COVID-19 in workplace hotspots and prevent the spread of the disease into our communities and neighborhoods,” said Goldstein-Gelb. “We look forward to working with Mayor Walsh as he implements the vision for safer workplaces laid out by President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris during their campaign."

The Biden/Harris team has proposed:

  • An emergency temporary standard (ETS), issued by OSHA, requiring employers to implement a plan to control infectious disease in all their facilities;
  • Doubling the number of OSHA investigators; 
  • Expanded access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers, using the authority of the Defense Production Act.