Department of Labor Standards Abandons Workers

July 22, 2021

Over the last month, the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) has taken two steps that have left workers unprotected from occupational exposure to COVID-19. First, on May 29, DLS stopped enforcing its COVID-19 Workplace Safety regulations despite the fact that these protections are still needed and that there is a clear legal requirement that regulations stay in place until there is a public hearing to discuss any change. While masks are still required in schools, correctional facilities, public transportation, healthcare facilities, and congregant care facilities (enforced by the MA Department of Public Health), many vulnerable workers in other facilities now have no protections. The unilateral action taken by DLS violates state law while endangering Massachusetts workers.

Second, DLS is refusing to enforce a new OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard to protect public sector health care workers. On June 10, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration released updated COVID-19 guidance for all workplaces and an Emergency Temporary Standard that covers workers in healthcare facilities. Those critical health and safety rules went into effect on June 21, yet the State has refused to enforce those protections for public sector healthcare workers, despite the fact that public sector workers are protected by a public sector OSHA law in Massachusetts (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 49, section 6 ½).  

MassCOSH and a group of unions released a statement on July 9th demanding the State enforce the new OSHA standard and continue to protect Massachusetts workers from occupational exposure to COVID-19. Read the full statement here. Contact Jodi Sugerman-Brozan at for more information and to testify in support of ongoing COVID-19 protections.