|Posted:||March 31, 2020 07:18 PM|
|From:||Representative Russ Diamond|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Healthy Back to Work Act|
|In the very near future, I will be introducing legislation allowing for the immediate reopening of all Pennsylvania businesses willing to comply with specific applicable recommended Center for Disease Control (CDC) health mitigation measures, as well as the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, during the ongoing COVID-19 disaster emergency.
While we are all well aware of COVID-19 and the threat it poses to the health and safety of Pennsylvania’s citizens, we must also take a big picture view regarding state actions and the potential unintended long-term consequences after the immediate threat has passed.
Official action by the Executive branch has extended well beyond common sense during this crisis. I do not believe the overreach was intentional, but it's self-evident that a central clearinghouse for determining which business operations can continue, and which operations can't, is a disaster of its own right. It is not only inefficient, but appears to be arbitrary, inequitable, and is certainly confusing. The utter lack of transparency provided by the business waiver process has unnecessarily fostered mistrust of all government action and has promoted public suspicion of corruption.
There is a better way.
Business enterprises, by their very nature, are quite adept at innovating to meet new challenges. I have witnessed this personally during the few times I have ventured out to procure various necessities over the last two weeks. While we cannot make blanket statements regarding every individual business enterprise in the Commonwealth as has been attempted with the Executive branch’s classification system and waiver process, I certainly believe every commercial enterprise should be afforded the opportunity to inform themselves, innovate, and adapt their business practices to safely adhere to federal guidelines for health and safety.
My legislation will allow all businesses to resume operations in Pennsylvania as long as they comply with CDC and OSHA COVID-19 mitigation measures until Pennsylvania’s disaster emergency has concluded. No waiver will be required for a business to reopen, but every business must agree to abide by CDC and OSHA guidelines during the COVID-19 disaster emergency and will be responsible for discovering and meeting those standards. Acceptance of these requirements will be signified by resuming business activity.
Business operations will also be subject to inspection for compliance by an authorized inspector of the Department of Health or law enforcement during the disaster emergency. The Department will be tasked with maintaining an up to date online repository and making public announcements to disseminate information on best practices for healthy workplaces from the CDC and OSHA to business entities, law enforcement agencies, and the general public. Links to current sources of information of this nature are linked below for your review.
While the COVID-19 threat must certainly be taken seriously through preventative measures and addressed by certain relief programs, even government handouts to attempt to “bridge the gap” for our citizens will be delayed by design and prove to be insufficient. This is especially true for Pennsylvanians who were already financially vulnerable and the business enterprises which were keeping them afloat.
Getting Pennsylvanians back to work is crucial. Destroying vast swaths of our economy in response to a viral pandemic is not acceptable. As history has proven, economic ruin and human isolation carry distinct human tolls of their own.
I urge you to join me in cosponsoring this critical legislation to put Pennsylvania on more common sense footing as we forge through, and emerge from, the current disaster emergency.
CDC Resources for Businesses and Employers
OSHA COVID-19 Resources
PA Department of Health COVID-19 Information for Businesses
Introduced as HB2389