WAAY31 I-TEAM: Who is protecting you at work from the coronavirus

OSHA has had 56 coronavirus complaints in Alabama since April 1st.

Posted: May 13, 2020 4:40 PM
Updated: May 13, 2020 8:59 PM

In Alabama, it's the federal government's job to oversee safety in the work place. The WAAY31 I-TEAM learned 56 companies are accused of not doing enough.

Nine of the complaints are about businesses from North Alabama. The companies range from a chicken plant to a restaurant to a credit union, and even a post office. For all of these complaints, plus others regularly filed, there are only 21 OSHA compliance officers throughout the entire state to investigate.

You can click this link to see the complaints in Alabama. They are between pages 286-291.

The complaints center around a lack of protective gear, sanitizing, social distancing and employees testing positive for coronavirus with nothing being done by the employer. Only one of these complaints is considered "formal" the others are non-formal, which means they don't meet OSHA's guidelines to be formal. WAAY 31 asked OSHA if it's actively investigating any of the complaints but it wouldn't say.

Formal complaints are filed by current employees with the businesses and must define a clear OSHA violation that could lead to an employee being harmed. According to OSHA's coronavirus guidelines formal complaints are taken more seriously if they come directly from multiple employees.

The guidelines also state complaints at places like hospitals or meat packing facilities are considered high risk and go to the top of the pile, but that doesn't mean it's sending investigators.

OSHA is directing it's officers to, "Maximize the use of electronic means of communication". So onsite visits to expose dangers to employees likely won't happen. In a sample letter that's supposed to go to businesses with complaints says, "OSHA does not intend to conduct an on-site inspection in response to the subject complaint at this time."

The investigating officer is directed to, "exercise enforcement discretion when considering issuing citations".

It's unclear what fines a company could face for failing to protect you from the coronavirus, but lawmakers in Montgomery did talk about adding protection to make it harder for employees or customers to sue a business if it doesn't do a good enough job.

Alabama is one of about 25 states that doesn't have a state OSHA plan, that means Alabama workers fall under the federal guidelines. The only people protected in Alabama by OSHA are people in the private sector, which means police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, and anyone working for a municipality can't file an OSHA complaint, because Alabama doesn't have a state plan.

You can file complaints anonymously. If a company retaliates against an employee for filing a complaint that's illegal.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 532895

Reported Deaths: 11001
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson771431528
Mobile41089808
Madison34837505
Tuscaloosa25810454
Montgomery24355588
Shelby23730249
Baldwin21191309
Lee15892171
Calhoun14522316
Morgan14324279
Etowah13861353
Marshall12250223
Houston10581281
Elmore10060205
Limestone9986151
Cullman9705194
St. Clair9702243
Lauderdale9441242
DeKalb8846187
Talladega8255176
Walker7246277
Autauga6938108
Jackson6815112
Blount6694137
Colbert6310134
Coffee5524119
Dale4850111
Russell443238
Chilton4308112
Franklin426282
Covington4136118
Tallapoosa4039152
Escambia393977
Chambers3578123
Dallas3557152
Clarke351161
Marion3130101
Pike311377
Lawrence300798
Winston275673
Bibb261564
Geneva251477
Marengo249664
Pickens234761
Barbour231756
Hale223277
Butler216469
Fayette212562
Henry189044
Cherokee184745
Randolph181742
Monroe178040
Washington167639
Macon159950
Clay156857
Crenshaw152757
Cleburne149141
Lamar142935
Lowndes139053
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110629
Coosa107928
Perry107826
Sumter104832
Greene92534
Choctaw61124
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 856428

Reported Deaths: 12305
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby963281628
Davidson89609941
Knox51090636
Hamilton44530496
Rutherford43174437
Williamson28104217
Sumner24122349
Montgomery20392227
Wilson18902236
Out of TN1823699
Sullivan16916298
Unassigned16906134
Blount15551196
Bradley15096151
Washington14681245
Maury13535172
Sevier13441175
Putnam11435175
Madison11245241
Robertson9785132
Anderson8792171
Hamblen8631173
Greene7924156
Tipton7388104
Coffee6922122
Dickson6850113
Cumberland6762133
Carter6660158
Gibson6535146
McMinn653498
Bedford6521128
Roane6317105
Jefferson6242125
Loudon615869
Hawkins6155107
Lawrence598189
Monroe587096
Warren555081
Dyer5440106
Franklin516390
Fayette511677
Cheatham457356
Obion454896
Cocke452299
Lincoln436763
Rhea435775
Marshall420258
Campbell417563
Weakley415665
Giles4009100
Henderson380276
White367770
Carroll363283
Macon363078
Hardin358868
Hardeman352864
Henry320276
Lauderdale320244
Claiborne318973
Scott314945
Marion312847
Overton302461
Wayne296834
Hickman284746
McNairy284054
DeKalb280654
Smith278739
Haywood271562
Grainger263550
Morgan251239
Trousdale250522
Fentress242647
Johnson241739
Bledsoe215611
Chester215451
Polk208524
Unicoi204549
Crockett203549
Cannon192631
Union191634
Humphreys181128
Grundy179534
Sequatchie171629
Lake170626
Benton167040
Decatur159239
Lewis158326
Meigs139025
Stewart132828
Jackson132336
Clay110330
Houston109733
Perry107128
Moore101417
Van Buren85323
Pickett75924
Hancock59312

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