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October 07, 2020
California, Nevada cite COVID-19 safety violations

States with their own workplace safety and health programs continue strong enforcement of both occupational safety and health regulations and their governors’ orders allowing the reopening of businesses. California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) cited five grocery stores, including two that failed to report employee deaths. The Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Nevada OSHA) cited a bar, a convenience store, and a Mexican restaurant for COVID-19 workplace violations.

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COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Cal/OSHA has cited grocery stores in Southern California for failing to protect their employees from COVID-19.

“Grocery retail workers are on the front lines and face a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19,” Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker said in a statement. “Employers in this industry must investigate possible causes of employee illness and put in place the necessary measures to protect their staff.”

All five stores cited by Cal/OSHA are owned and operated by Cincinnati-based Kroger Company. A Food4Less store in Los Angeles and four Ralph’s stores in the Los Angeles metropolitan area were cited for failing to protect workers from exposure to COVID-19 because they did not update their workplace safety plans to properly address hazards related to the virus.

The Ralph’s stores in Culver City and Sherman Oaks grocery stores failed to report a worker’s fatal COVID-19 illness at each location, according to Cal/OSHA. The agency learned of the fatality 7 days after the worker’s death in Culver City and 6 days after the fatality in Sherman Oaks. The Sherman Oaks store, along with Ralph’s locations in West Hollywood and Studio City, failed to maintain appropriate physical distance between customers and employees, according to Cal/OSHA.

Cal/OSHA inspectors also determined that Ralph’s Culver City and West Hollywood locations failed to provide effective training for their employees, including instruction on how the virus is spread, measures to avoid infection, signs and symptoms of infection, and how to safely use cleaners and disinfectants.

Nevada OSHA officials observed noncompliance at Stead Food and Liquor in Reno with one or more requirements of general and industry-specific guidance and directives during both an initial observation and a follow-up visit. The agency fined Stead Food and Liquor $2,603 for an employee without a face mask.

The agency issued citations to Gilley’s Saloon on the Las Vegas strip and Viva El Taco Mexican Food in Las Vegas after investigations were initiated as a result of referrals filed with Nevada OSHA alleging workplace safety hazards.

Nevada OSHA fined Gilley’s $6,073 because the bar top was not closed as required and customers were actively consuming food and beverages at the bar. The agency fined Viva El Taco $3,643 because employees were wearing face coverings below the nose.

Nevada OSHA has been enforcing compliance with mandated health and safety measures under the governor’s emergency declaration directive and the agency’s employer guidelines for reopening. Nevada OSHA has issued 39 citations since the state’s face covering mandate went into effect in June.

A recent National Safety Council (NSC) report ranked California, along with New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington, as having the best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NSC recognized Nevada and California as two of the nine states with the most comprehensive employer guidelines.

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