Can OSHA Protect Medical Whistleblowers Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, there are a mounting number of stories of hospitals across the country taking or threatening disciplinary action against healthcare workers who raise concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment. In particularly high demand and in short supply are N95 respirators, or face masks, that, if worn properly, filter out the majority of small particles in air and fluids, and can protect nurses and doctors on the job.

A federal agency whose mission is to help protect workers from health and safety risks could help protect medical workers from retaliation, even though a key law it enforces isn’t as strong as other whistleblower statutes. But that agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), hasn’t been particularly vocal during the current crisis.

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