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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: 154942

Reported Deaths: 2660
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22861374
Mobile14468314
Tuscaloosa10148139
Montgomery9875196
Madison915094
Shelby720462
Lee649665
Baldwin647569
Marshall433049
Calhoun418960
Etowah418749
Morgan403635
Houston369232
DeKalb330229
Elmore314852
St. Clair287142
Limestone276530
Walker272293
Talladega261035
Cullman235724
Lauderdale214841
Jackson210015
Autauga202330
Franklin202131
Colbert196731
Russell19233
Blount189325
Dallas186227
Chilton184132
Escambia171929
Coffee171710
Covington169929
Dale165451
Chambers133643
Pike132313
Tallapoosa130587
Clarke130017
Marion106229
Butler100140
Barbour9979
Marengo99222
Winston91313
Geneva8527
Pickens82417
Lawrence82131
Randolph81216
Bibb81114
Hale74930
Clay72912
Cherokee72614
Lowndes70328
Monroe64010
Henry6396
Bullock63717
Washington63412
Crenshaw60230
Perry5836
Wilcox56212
Fayette56113
Conecuh55713
Cleburne5438
Macon52920
Sumter47021
Lamar4665
Choctaw38812
Greene34216
Coosa2023
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 237907

Reported Deaths: 3011
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby34892558
Davidson30302330
Knox1217488
Hamilton11368105
Rutherford11274110
Williamson680255
Sumner5788108
Wilson451455
Putnam425754
Montgomery398851
Out of TN382836
Unassigned38224
Madison369679
Bradley347923
Sullivan339546
Sevier324121
Washington324146
Blount319132
Maury313937
Robertson253741
Hamblen237943
Tipton226022
Dyer209627
Gibson208238
Hardeman182132
Coffee179920
Trousdale17517
Obion167820
Greene161851
Bedford161720
Anderson161114
Fayette160522
Dickson160419
Wayne15697
Loudon156610
McMinn156433
Cumberland156124
Lawrence152618
Jefferson149220
Weakley146725
Carter146532
Monroe139528
Warren138710
Henderson137925
Lauderdale136717
Hardin135219
Macon128625
Franklin124416
Roane12237
Haywood121027
Overton116512
Hawkins114224
White113314
Johnson11177
Carroll110525
McNairy109926
Marshall10859
Rhea106316
Cheatham100011
Bledsoe9994
Lake9753
Cocke96612
Smith96212
Giles92134
Campbell9118
Fentress8778
Lincoln8363
Crockett80320
Henry75610
Hickman75113
Marion7249
Chester71514
DeKalb69017
Decatur64811
Grainger5514
Grundy53511
Union5173
Claiborne5086
Polk48313
Jackson4345
Humphreys4244
Morgan4227
Houston39915
Benton3979
Cannon3962
Unicoi3842
Clay38314
Lewis3602
Scott3514
Sequatchie3294
Stewart3128
Meigs3005
Perry2611
Moore2542
Pickett2527
Van Buren1971
Hancock1133

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