Please Make the ETS Permanent!
My name is Anthony Pistone and I am a member of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME). I have served Arlington County in the Water, Sewer, and Streets division of Environmental Services for four years. My primary job responsibility is to operate an asphalt truck as part of a road maintenance crew. Road maintenance is often loud and fast paced, making it hard to be constantly conscientious of physical distancing while at a work site.
Since the onset of the pandemic, in the interest of being compliant of federal and state guidelines, the county has been providing us with face masks. While this does not eliminate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 or other communicable illness, it serves as source control to curb the spread. The County also halted the standard practice of commuting to job sites in full vehicles at the onset of the pandemic. For several months, my crew rode one to a vehicle, a necessary change then and a practice we should return to. Presently, my crew commutes to worksites two to a car, with two of us in the asphalt truck and two in the utility truck.
While the work we do has us out in the community and in close contact with the public, the measures that the County has implemented toward being complaint with VOSH ETS has meant some measure of protection for us.
We need VOSH to make the emergency temporary standard permanent to protect employees against the risk of exposure. The risk presented by COVID-19 has not passed and it is of the utmost importance that employers have clear directives as to what steps must be taken to protect employees and the public. Strong enforcement mechanisms will mean more compliance. Virginia has shown leadership in being first in the nation to enact these temporary emergency standards, and they can continue to lead by making the standards permanent. We urge you to protect Virginian workers and our families.