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May 06, 2024
Employer facing $164K OSHA fine in visiting nurse's death

A pair of home healthcare providers face $163,627 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines following the death of a licensed practical nurse during a home visit in Willimantic, Connecticut, the agency announced May 1.

OSHA cited Jordan Health Care Inc. and New England Home Care Inc., both doing business as Elara Caring, with one willful violation under the agency’s General Duty Clause for not developing and implementing adequate measures to protect employees from the ongoing hazard of workplace violence.

Agency investigators determined that Elara Caring exposed home healthcare workers to workplace violence from patients who exhibited aggressive behavior and were known to pose a risk to others. They concluded that Elara Caring could have reduced the hazard of workplace violence by:

  • Performing root cause analyses on incidents of violence and near misses,
  • Providing clinicians with comprehensive background information on patients before home visits,
  • Providing emergency panic alert buttons to clinicians, and
  • Developing procedures for the use of safety escorts for visits to patients with high-risk behaviors.

OSHA also cited the employer with one other-than-serious violation for not providing work-related injury and illness records to the agency within 4 business hours.

“Elara Caring failed its legal duty to protect employees from workplace injury by not having effective measures in place to protect employees against a known hazard, and it cost a worker her life,” Charles D. McGrevy, OSHA’s Hartford, Connecticut, area office director, said in an agency statement.

There is no federal workplace violence prevention standard, but the agency cites employers following worker injuries, hospitalizations, or deaths using its enforcement authority under the General Duty Clause (§5(a)(1)) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. OSHA has a rulemaking to establish a federal standard for workplace violence prevention in health care and social assistance. The agency issued a request for information in 2016 and concluded a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) review of the rulemaking last year.

OSHA has a set of voluntary guidelines for workplace violence prevention in health care and social assistance.

Shipyard faces $190K OSHA fine after fatal fall

North Charleston, South Carolina-based Detyens Shipyards Inc., a major East Coast ship repair and servicing company, faces $190,130 in OSHA penalties after a worker’s fatal fall, the agency announced May 1.

Investigators learned that a 41-year-old worker had fallen almost 20 feet from an unguarded side of a small platform inside a gas tank aboard the U.S. Naval Ship 1st Lt. Jack Lummus. The worker’s death is the fourth fatality at the shipyard in 5 years, according to OSHA.

The agency cited Detyens Shipyards for the following:

  • Willfully exposing workers to fall hazards by permitting them to access a platform level without guardrails;
  • Not providing adequate lighting to work safely in the area—a serious violation; and 
  • Not making certain workers wear hard hats as others worked above them with hoses, knives, flashlights, and other tools—another serious violation.

Inspectors also found that the employer allowed workers to use a damaged extension cord—an other-than-serious violation.

“For the fourth time in five years, Detyens Shipyards failed in its primary responsibility to keep its employees safe, and now another worker’s family, friends, and co-workers are left to grieve a terrible and needless loss,” Kim Morton, OSHA’s Raleigh, North Carolina, area office director, said in a statement.

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