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OSHA Complaints About COVID-19 Concerns Could Impact Thousands In Pittsburgh Area

Matt Rourke
Complaints filed with OSHA cite shortages of personal protective equipment, including masks, at 63 Pittsburgh-area companies.


On today's program: Pittsburgh-area employees filed 100 complaints related to COVID-19 concerns with OSHA in the early months of the pandemic; professional sports teams with racist names and logos consider rebranding; and RealTime Interventions, a local live-arts production company, takes its events online.

OSHA complaints highlight PPE shortages, lack of safety guidelines
(00:00 — 5:46)

Employees at 63 Pittsburgh-area companies filed 100 complaints related to COVID-19 with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, in the early months of the pandemic. Concerns raised by workers included shortages of masks, hand sanitizer and not maintaining proper social distancing among other safety guidelines.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reportersKate Giammarise andDaniel Moore examined the complaints. They report the alleged violations potentially exposed almost 5,900 workers in the region.

So far, OSHA has declined to issue an emergency temporary standard, which would make the current pandemic safety recommendations into legally binding requirements.

“The complaints, as we saw in the data, are not slowing down,” says Moore. “So as the pandemic stays with us for months and months, I would be interested to see if OSHA does end up taking any kind of stronger enforcement action.” 

Sports teams with racist logos rethink their brands
(5:48 — 11:17)

Sports are slowly returning to the airwaves. Amid the pandemic and civil unrest over racial justice, some teams have come under fire for offensive team names and images. The NFL team in Washington D.C. announced it will change its name, and in the interim season be known as the “Washington Football Team.” In the past, some teams with racist names and logos have rebranded, but some don’t expect professional sports teams to rush into change.


“Until it makes an economic case for them, I think we’re going to see a lot of resistance associated with doing it,” says Ari Lightman, a professor at the Heinz College of Carnegie Mellon University who teaches students to work with companies to develop responses to social initiatives.

He says businesses and organizations may be reluctant to change their racist names and logos because of the time and money already invested in them. But the process of going through a name change can also bring in new fans who might have felt, “disenfranchised from the organization based on their name.”

“I think teams that alienate specific populations because their name might be construed as a racial slight to a specific population really need to think about their identity,” Lightman says. 

Local arts programming moves online
(11:19 — 18:03)

RealTime Interventions, a local live-arts production company focused on creating human connection through empathy, is continuing its live streaming programRealTime Presents: ASSOCIATE Episode 2, next Thursday, August 5th at 7pm, presented through City of Asylum’sThe Show Must Go On(line) virtual channel.

90.5 WESA’s Bob Studebaker talked with the co-founders of Real Time Interventions and one of the participating artists about the programming, which will focus on Black Lives Matter. 


The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.


Julia Zenkevich reports on Allegheny County government for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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