The Bill Would Empower the Over 78,000 Federal Workers in Ohio with Critical Information About Workplace Safety Plans
WASHINGTON, DC – With the COVID-19 delta variant on the rise, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), along with Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), introduced legislation today to promote federal worker safety and ensure that employees and their families are well informed about COVID-19 protective measures in the workplace. This legislation would provide critical information about workplace safety plans to workers and their families in Ohio and across the country. The Chai Suthammanont Remembrance Act – named after a Virginia federal worker who passed away from COVID-19 complications – would require federal agencies to publish and communicate their COVID-19 safety plans, setting a precedent for increased agency transparency around critical safeguards.
There are over 78,000 federal workers in Ohio and they live in every county in the state. In Greene County, home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, federal workers account for nearly one-third of all employment in the county.
“The frontline federal employees that have reported to work throughout this ongoing pandemic deserve gratitude, protection, and support. With the emergence of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, we must recognize and act on the risks these workers face during this health emergency. There’s no reason why civil servants should have to worry about whether their work environment is safe enough for them to carry out their duties. This legislation is a step in the right direction to ensuring that federal employees are not left in the dark with regard to workplace safety,” said Sen. Brown.
This bicameral legislation was also introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and passed by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on May 13, 2021. It now awaits a vote on the House floor.
According to this legislation, any workplace safety plan disseminated by a federal agency must include:
- Procedures for testing, contact-tracing, and vaccine administration for federal employees, along with other mitigation efforts, including cleaning protocols, implementation of occupancy limits, and efforts to ensure proper mask-wearing, social distancing, and individual hygiene at worksites.
- Efforts to protect employees who travel for their official duties or who work outside of federal office buildings.
- Safety and health requirements for visitors to federal facilities.
- Contingency options and workplace flexibilities for those at high-risk of contracting the coronavirus, or who live in a household with individuals at high-risk.
- Protocols for vaccination, including leave policies for individuals who experience severe side-effects as a result of vaccination.
- Efforts to ensure continuity of agency operations, including contingency plans should there be a surge in coronavirus cases.
- Applicable Inspector General Hotline information that employees can use to report instances when agencies do not follow the plan.
Text of this legislation is available here.