OSHA Fines for Violating COVID-19 Protocols

A healthcare company in Cleveland, OH that was recently fined by OSHA for violating respiratory protection standards after seven employees were hospitalized for coronavirus-related issues. There are more companies that have been issued fines for not protecting their employees from getting infected by COVID-19. You can find more information on this through the OSHA inspections posted publicly on their website.

OSHA previously declared that they would take into consideration the employer’s effort to comply with OSHA regulations for COVID-19 safety during an inspection. This makes us believe that if an employer is making an obvious effort to ensure COVID-19 safety and health of their employees, OSHA will be more understanding during an inspection. On the other hand, if a business is blatantly disregarding COVID-19 safety protocols from OSHA, that company can expect to see some hefty OSHA fines.

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What Type of OSHA Fines Could be Issued?

During an OSHA inspection, the Compliance Officer will look for workplace safety violations relating to COVID-19 set by OSHA and the CDC. Since OSHA does not have any specific pandemic prevention guideline, keeping employees safe from COVID-19 and similar pandemics does fall under OSHA’s General Safety Guidelines. Unable to comply with these safety guidelines can cause hefty fines. Here are some recent examples:

  • Three Ohio nursing homes were fined for violating respiratory protections standards. OSHA inspectors found that the nursing homes were allowing workers to wear the same N95 masks for up to seven days in a row. More
  • Las Vegas State Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials fined two businesses for non compliance with mandated health and safety measures and one of them was threatened with closure if they continue to violate. More.
  • A Walmart in Mesquite and high-end retailer Nieman Marcus on the Las Vegas Strip were among 11 businesses statewide fined last week by inspectors for failure to comply with coronavirus pandemic mitigation measures including mask-wearing and social distancing. More.
  • North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale and United Hospital in St. Paul were each hit with $2,100 citations after workers complained to the state about an array of allegedly unsafe practices related to breathing devices and other personal protective equipment (PPE). More.

Under OSHA’s General Duty Clause, employers must keep employees safe from work related safety & health issues including airborne disease like Coronavirus. The employees must be equipped with PPE, Eye and Face Protection, Hand Protection, and comply with Respiratory Protection standards. OSHA is advising employers to provide training to all workers with reasonably anticipated occupational exposure to COVID-19.

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Leading States for COVID-19 Safety Protocols

We are hopeful to see that some states have already issued strict COVID-19 safety protocols. New York, California and Virginia are setting the safety bar high and issuing specific protocols and procedures for businesses to follow. Most states have set up their own resources and guidance websites but these states have taken measures to the next level to ensure workplace and worker safety during this pandemic.

Need help with OSHA compliance?

Safety Assure helps companies establish a safer workplace without the administrative burden. Our easy-to-use mobile app for OSHA recordkeeping for injury and illness enables your employees to log incidents, accidents, near misses, and observations with ease and wherever these events are noticed. Complying with COVID-19 safety standards to avoid OSHA penalties and lower operational costs has never been easier!

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