ANA urges nurses to report retaliation to OSHA

The American Nurses Association is speaking out about retaliation against healthcare workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association, which represents the interests of 4 million U.S. nurses, said it is disturbed about reports of employers retaliating against nurses and other healthcare workers for raising concerns about their personal safety while caring for COVID-19 patients.

ANA went on to call reports of intimidation, firing and ostracizing "unacceptable," and called for "ongoing, transparent and effective communication" between nurses and employers about nurses' ability to provide safe care.

The association also urged nurses who are experiencing acts of retaliation from their employer to file a whistleblower complaint online with the U.S. Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In response, a department spokesperson told Becker's OSHA "considers all whistleblower complaints to be serious and addresses them accordingly." Since March 1, OSHA has received 386 whistleblower complaints related to COVID-19. Many of the complaints have been referred to OSHA-approved workplace safety and health programs operated by states or U.S. territories, according to the department. Others are being examined by OSHA.

OSHA said most, if not all, of the complaints are under Section 11(c) of the OSH Act, as they related to scenarios in places such as restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals and nursing homes. The department said it is still evaluating complaints to determine to what extent they apply to airline, railroad, trucking or other potentially affected industries.

"As indicated in OSHA's Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, employers and workers should implement basic infection prevention measures by maintaining regular housekeeping practices, including routine cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, equipment and other elements of the work environment," the department added.

 

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