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January 11, 2021
OSHA enforcement roundup: 176 employers cited for COVID-19 violations

In conducting COVID-19-related inspections, OSHA has frequently cited employers for violating certain standards. In the fourth quarter (Q4), OSHA cited 176 employers for COVID-19-related violations, including failure to protect employees from exposure to COVID-19 and not following respiratory protection standards. These penalties resulted in $2,936,089 in fines, ranging from $1,000 to nearly $33,000. Here’s a roundup of some recent COVID-19-related enforcement cases:

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Biggest fine to rehab facility

The largest fine assessed by OSHA in Q4 was to a rehabilitation and nursing center in New Jersey for $32,965. The violations included failure to report fatalities in the 8-hour time limit; provide appropriate respirators and/or other personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees when necessary; provide a medical evaluation to employees before they are fit tested or use a respirator; and perform an appropriate fit test for workers using tight-fitting respirators.

Nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and assisted living centers, particularly in New Jersey and New York, accounted for most COVID-19-related workplace violations.

Hospitals and medical centers

Many COVID-19-related workplace violations also came from hospitals and medical centers. Here are some of the highlights:
  • A hospital in New Jersey was fined $25,061 for failure to report fatalities in the 8-hour time limit; keep required records of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illness; provide suitable respirators to employees; and include required information in medical evaluations taken before using a respirator.
  • A healthcare facility in Massachusetts was fined $25,061 for failure to report fatalities in the 8-hour time limit; keep required records of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illness; establish, implement, and update a written respiratory protection program with required worksite-specific procedures; and provide a medical evaluation to determine employees' ability to use a respirator before they were fit tested or were required to use a respirator.
  • A medical center in New Jersey was fined $23,133 for failure to report fatalities in the 8-hour time limit; provide a medical evaluation to determine employees' ability to use a respirator before they were fit tested or were required to use a respirator; perform an appropriate fit test for workers using tight-fitting respirators; and train workers to safely use respirators and/or other PPE in the workplace and retrain workers about changes in the workplace that might make previous training obsolete.
  • A hospital in Massachusetts was fined $20,820 for failure to report fatalities in the 8-hour time limit and provide appropriate respirators and/or other PPE to employees when necessary.

High penalty for food service company

A food service and support company in Washington, D.C., was fined $26,218 for failure to report fatalities in the 8-hour time limit; keep required records of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illness; designate a program administrator who is qualified by appropriate training to administer or oversee the respiratory protection program and conduct the required evaluations of program effectiveness; provide a medical evaluation to determine employees' ability to use a respirator before they were fit tested or were required to use a respirator; and perform an appropriate fit test for workers using tight-fitting respirators.

 

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