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Cartwright Calls on OSHA to Do More to Protect Workers in Northeastern Pennsylvania

May 20, 2020
Press Release

Hazle Township, PA – U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) today demanded that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) take additional, on-the-ground steps in response to health and safety concerns he and workers raised in April at Amazon’s “AVP1” distribution center and its continued failure to protect workers from COVID-19.

The New York Times reported yesterday that after Cartwright called on OSHA to investigate Amazon and other large employers in the area, and an Amazon worker filed a complaint in early April, the agency later ‘closed the complaint after Amazon provided documentation of its efforts.’ The report also notes that AVP1 has since become Amazon’s biggest coronavirus hotspot.

“Asking companies to police themselves, and then taking them at their word, is not the way to keep people safe and healthy. That much is clear,” Cartwright said. “OSHA’s failure to act on real health and safety concerns brought to their attention has cost lives in northeastern Pennsylvania and across the country. OSHA needs to step up and make sure employees have a safe environment to work in.”

Despite major coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants, distribution centers and warehouses across the country, OSHA continues to maintain a policy of leaving employers with the responsibility of implementing its voluntary COVID-19 safety guidelines, according to the most recent enforcement memo on the matter from the U.S. Department of Labor.

A month after Cartwright’s initial engagement with OSHA in early April, the Congressman called on the agency to step up enforcement of its guidelines. He also supports provisions in the Heroes Act – coronavirus aid legislation passed by the U.S. House Friday – requiring OSHA to issue a national emergency standard to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.