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: 429655

Reported Deaths: 6283
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63040956
Mobile30794557
Madison27486201
Tuscaloosa20996268
Montgomery19352315
Shelby18833120
Baldwin16653184
Lee12749102
Morgan12389119
Etowah11861176
Calhoun11292201
Marshall10290113
Houston8746156
Limestone813276
Cullman8125106
Elmore7999104
DeKalb776599
Lauderdale768698
St. Clair7651121
Talladega6309108
Walker5954174
Jackson586341
Colbert539873
Blount537683
Autauga525755
Coffee450456
Dale402981
Franklin369948
Russell340711
Chilton338966
Covington332668
Escambia326043
Dallas308896
Chambers293170
Clarke287833
Tallapoosa2641107
Pike255230
Marion248953
Lawrence246649
Winston229535
Bibb218847
Geneva205446
Marengo202829
Pickens197531
Hale179542
Barbour176036
Fayette172928
Butler170858
Cherokee161930
Henry156523
Monroe149818
Randolph142135
Washington139126
Clay127645
Crenshaw121544
Cleburne119023
Lamar119021
Macon118637
Lowndes112036
Wilcox105121
Bullock101128
Perry99019
Conecuh95720
Sumter89626
Greene76623
Coosa61015
Choctaw51624
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 694291

Reported Deaths: 8556
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby771571142
Davidson71578678
Knox39306418
Hamilton35049330
Rutherford33516288
Unassigned23161126
Williamson21679141
Sumner18454232
Out of TN1601379
Montgomery14719149
Wilson14622159
Sullivan12736212
Blount12146127
Washington12010193
Maury11079125
Bradley1093494
Sevier10589110
Putnam10001148
Madison9205180
Robertson774185
Hamblen7088112
Anderson6864107
Greene6655108
Tipton626865
Coffee567382
Gibson5671112
Cumberland544173
Dickson543579
Bedford535690
Roane526379
Carter5145115
Lawrence514269
McMinn511773
Warren502653
Loudon500050
Jefferson483876
Dyer478683
Monroe462763
Hawkins449970
Franklin415263
Fayette402151
Obion401980
Rhea384756
Lincoln381244
Marshall349238
Cocke348657
Cheatham343930
Weakley341848
Henderson334658
Campbell328640
Giles325373
Carroll314059
White312643
Hardeman311252
Hardin300048
Lauderdale295131
Macon291450
Wayne265020
Henry262958
Overton256145
DeKalb244142
McNairy242242
Haywood241045
Smith233028
Marion230831
Trousdale229314
Scott227331
Hickman225834
Claiborne217629
Fentress214233
Grainger211237
Johnson203033
Morgan191215
Crockett181338
Chester175838
Bledsoe175411
Unicoi168344
Cannon158920
Lake156620
Decatur148127
Polk144517
Union140723
Grundy140321
Sequatchie138318
Humphreys134417
Benton132535
Lewis128620
Meigs116416
Stewart107020
Jackson105423
Perry95325
Clay94626
Houston94222
Moore8179
Pickett68520
Van Buren6667
Hancock4076

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