Iowa OSHA Says Capitol May Expose Workers to COVID-19 Hazards

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration says working conditions at the State Capitol could be exposing workers to Covid-19 hazards.

A letter from OSHA points to a lack of social distancing and no requirement to report positive COVID tests as reasons for concern.

An investigation was conducted after several labor groups filed an OSHA complaint in January over safety concerns.

Republicans, who control the legislature, say it was a politically contrived investigation, and say they've made efforts to contain the virus.

Ten COVID-19 cases have been reported at the Capitol this year.

Face mask have not been required in the building since this year's legislative session began.

The OSHA investigation did not find that COVID-19 policies at the Capitol broke any law, but did find unrelated violations leading to $10,000 in fines.

Electrical outlets in a Capitol meeting room were cited for posing a shock or burn hazard. The inspection also found a lack of accounting for of injuries and illnesses and improperly labeled chemicals.

Republican Senate Majority Jack Whitver was critical of the OSHA letter. “The report noted it was possible to contact the coronavirus in the Capitol,” Whitver said. “This fact, of course, is also true of nearly any other activity in the world.”

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls said Republican leadership had forced the public "to choose between participating in the democratic process and protecting their own health and safety."