Briggs & Stratton must improve worker safety, after Mike Jackson’s death

Voces de la Frontera has filed a complaint with federal and state agencies in connection with the tragic death of Mike Jackson, a Briggs & Stratton assembly-line worker who died from COVID-19 last week.

Jackson, a 45-year old father of eight, died just days after collapsing at his assembly-line job at Briggs & Stratton in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

The company had kept him working at an exhausting pace, in tight quarters with other workers, because they considered him an “essential” worker. Mike Jackson and his co-workers were never given the explanation they sought of why the assembly of lawn-mower engines and pressure washers is “essential” to public health and safety during a pandemic.

Prior to his death, Mike and his co-workers had been organizing to try to get the company to implement CDC-OSHA guidelines for protecting the health and lives of workers from the spread of COVID-19.

Vocesthe Milwaukee-based advocate for immigrants and low-wage workers, is filing a complaint with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wisconsin Health Department for the company’s failure to protect workers and for retaliation against a worker speaking out about the need for safety on the job.

The letter was also sent to the company.

See the letter here.

The complaint cites a number of safety conditions that must be adopted in order to ensure proper working conditions. They include:

–Mandatory wearing of masks for all personnel

–Proper social distancing for all employees

–Proper safety treatment for temporary workers

–Informing employees if co-workers test positive for COVID-19

–Test every worker for COVID-19

–Check workers coming into work for fever

–Shut down and sanitize the plant

–Provide sick days for employees and remove disincentives that prevent employees from calling in sick.

–Enforce a policy of non-retaliation for workers who express concerns about their safety.

These demands align with guidance issued by OSHA and the federal Centers for Disease Control on how to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure worker safety.

Voces Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz spoke with a Briggs & Stratton executive Thursday regarding the case. The company said it would consider adopting additional safety measures.

Voces will continue to monitor the situation to see how Briggs & Stratton does respond.