Ohio Senator backs proposed legislation to add new guidelines protecting workers from COVID variant

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) – New legislation co-sponsored by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) would provide more information to federal workers on how they are being protected against COVID-19 in the workplace.

This legislation would provide 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. In Greene County, home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, federal workers account for nearly one-third of all employment in the county.

The 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 (Full text of the 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

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