TSA Orders New COVID-19 Safety Precautions In Response to Whistleblower Complaint

According to a report by The Washington Post, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) administrator ordered the update of safety precautions for employees after meeting with TSA whistleblower Jay Brainard.

Brainard, currently the TSA Federal Security Director in Kansas, has been with the TSA for nearly 20 years. He filed a whistleblower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) earlier in the pandemic, stating that the TSA failed to protect employees or passengers from the virus. Last month, his complaint alleged that the TSA had refused to let local supervisors mandate safety procedures for employees like wearing masks and changing or sanitizing protective gloves when working with passengers. Brainard said that federal security directors were “forced to fend for him or herself,” even though numerous federal security directors had tried to convince their superiors to let them distribute personal protective equipment. After receiving Brainard’s whistleblower complaint, the OSC urged the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an investigation.

The TSA is now making changes to its COVID-19 safety protocol. TSA spokesman R. Carter Langston confirmed that Brainard met with David Pekoske, a TSA administrator, last week, and that “the changed outlined had been implemented.” Brainard’s lawyer said that “the new measures require officers to wear eye protection when they are in close contact with travelers and aren’t protected by a plastic screen.” There are also new rules for officers to change or sanitize their gloves “after patting down passengers, handling identification documents or checking in luggage.”

Brainard seems satisfied with the changes, stating that the TSA “has taken necessary steps to make air travel safer for the public and enhance protective measures in the workplace for our front line employees.”

Read more about whistleblowing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the New York Post article about the TSA’s safety precaution changes.

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