ILO Working paper 92

Occupational Safety and Health, Frontline Workers, and the COVID-19 Pandemic in the U.S.

The Report provides an overview of U.S. occupational safety and health and related laws providing protection to workers in the US; traces the effects of the pandemic on workers in the U.S. and reviews the federal agencies’ and states’ responses to the risk of COVID-19 within workplaces.

This Report on the U.S. occupational safety and health response to the pandemic was prepared as part of the ILO World Economic and Social Outlook (WESO) project that included a review of the protections provided to critical workers on the frontline of the pandemic in multiple countries. The Report provides an overview of U.S. occupational safety and health and related laws; traces the effects of the pandemic on workers in the U.S.; reviews the federal agencies’ responses to the risk of COVID-19 within workplaces; explores the variability among state responses to the occupational health threat; provides a summary of COVID-related workplace litigation brought by individuals and unions to expand workplace protections; and briefly outlines the social and economic supports provided to workers in the U.S. before and then during the pandemic. The Report concludes with an analysis of the U.S. response to the coronavirus public health crisis within workplaces.