Real Change - Thanks to you!

December 21, 2020

On May 18, when the Commonwealth began to reopen for business, the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board created a set of Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards. With no representation from workers, labor, or occupational health experts on the Reopening Advisory Board, it is no surprise that these Standards failed to protect workers from workplace exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. For months, MassCOSH has advocated for stronger protections, mobilizing our allies to testify at two public hearings, educating the public, and encouraging MassCOSH members to submit testimony. On November 13, DLS released its final regulations and we are pleased to report notable victories.

Restaurant and grocery store employees, among the workers most impacted by COVID-19, are no longer exempted from the State’s protections thanks to the advocacy of MassCOSH and its supporters. Fines for unsafe working conditions related to COVID-19, originally a maximum of $300, are now set at $300 per violation per day. Training must be provided to employees on the contents of the new regulations as well as the signs and symptoms of COVID-19; the risk of asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 and anti-retaliation protections for workers. Employers must document this training and it must be provided at no cost to the employee, during working hours.

Despite our best efforts, there are still many flaws with these regulations. Most notably they do not address one of the key ways workers are exposed: aerosol transmission of micro-droplets. Furthermore, many workers remain exempted from the regulations' protections, including health care workers, public and private K-12 schools staff, and childcare workers. Click here to learn more about Massachusetts COVID-19 Workplace Safety Regulations and follow MassCOSH on Facebook for more information on how we are fighting to protect all workers.