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OSHA's Newly Signed Memorandum Will Help Protect More Workers

The agency will be able to provide certain visa certifications starting March 30.

With the signing of a new memorandum, OSHA will be able to protect the health and safety of more workers.

Starting on March 30, 2023, if OSHA finds “qualifying criminal activities” during an inspection, the agency will be allowed to “issue certifications in support of applications” for certain visas aimed at non-U.S. citizens who have been victims of a crime," according to a news release.

The visas—U Nonimmigrant Status and T Nonimmigrant Status visas—grant people immigration status and allow them to not worry about retaliation when working with officials during criminal investigations and proceedings, OSHA said. The U Visa applies to people who are a victim of a crime, such as abduction, involuntary servitude or stalking (view a full list here), and the T Visa is for people who are victims of human trafficking.

"By enabling OSHA to issue U and T visa certifications, we will be empowering some of our economy's most vulnerable workers to tell us if their jobs are jeopardizing their safety and health, and that of their co-workers, and to support our enforcement efforts," said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker in the news release.

In 2021, 17.4 percent of the U.S. workforce consisted of workers who were not born in the U.S, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A little less than half (47.6 percent) of these workers were Hispanic or Latino; about one in four (24.99 percent) were Asian; and 10 percent were Black.

"Expanding OSHA's U and T visa certification authority helps the agency better fulfill its mission to make U.S. workplaces as safe and healthy as possible," Parker said. "Workers in the U.S. need to feel empowered and able to trust OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor enough to voice their concerns about workplace safety regardless of their immigration status and fears of retaliation."

The memorandum was signed on February 13, 2023.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is a former Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety,who has since joined OH&S’s client services team. She continues to work closely with OH&S’s editorial team and contributes to the magazine.

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