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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

Confirmed Cases: 18766

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2284118
Jefferson1884103
Montgomery182343
Tuscaloosa82216
Marshall7059
Franklin5788
Lee55834
Shelby52220
Tallapoosa43266
Butler41918
Walker3812
Elmore3729
Chambers35926
Madison3464
Morgan2981
Unassigned2972
Baldwin2929
Dallas2873
Etowah26212
Lowndes25912
DeKalb2573
Autauga2395
Coffee2391
Sumter2287
Houston2265
Bullock2156
Pike2080
Colbert1872
Hale1799
Russell1770
Barbour1771
Marengo1746
Lauderdale1692
Calhoun1653
Wilcox1547
Choctaw15310
Cullman1501
Clarke1492
St. Clair1311
Randolph1287
Marion12411
Dale1230
Pickens1215
Talladega1175
Limestone1080
Chilton1051
Greene954
Winston910
Macon874
Jackson833
Henry812
Covington811
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia753
Washington726
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe452
Geneva440
Perry420
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 24833

Reported Deaths: 388
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson542965
Shelby5428119
Trousdale13944
Rutherford132128
Hamilton93516
Sumner93146
Lake8350
Bledsoe6101
Williamson57711
Putnam5196
Robertson5165
Tipton4593
Wilson4428
Knox4365
Out of TN4264
Bedford2954
Montgomery2833
Rhea2140
Hardeman2010
Madison1732
Bradley1611
Unassigned1610
Macon1583
Loudon1570
McMinn14414
Cheatham1350
Fayette1252
Cumberland1191
Dickson1180
Maury1050
Sevier942
Blount933
Washington750
Coffee740
Monroe692
Wayne640
Gibson631
Sullivan602
Lauderdale591
Hickman580
Dyer570
Franklin541
Greene522
Unicoi480
Obion433
Hamblen432
Marion421
Anderson411
DeKalb380
Smith371
White340
Hawkins342
Marshall331
Lawrence330
Haywood332
Overton320
Cannon320
Grundy311
Henry310
Lincoln290
Jefferson280
Carroll281
Meigs270
Weakley260
Warren260
Perry240
Hardin222
Cocke210
Sequatchie190
Carter191
Johnson190
Jackson190
Polk180
Campbell181
Morgan170
Roane160
Crockett162
Humphreys151
McNairy150
Henderson150
Stewart130
Claiborne120
Chester120
Fentress120
Giles120
Scott120
Grainger110
Clay80
Houston80
Benton71
Moore50
Decatur50
Van Buren40
Union40
Pickett30
Lewis30
Hancock10

 

 

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