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OSHA’s COVID-19 response update points to 25 more establishments cited, with additional $429K in penalties

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

The great bulk of citations were issued in September, with few issued before then.

In what seems an ongoing campaign to highlight its efforts following criticism for being “missing in action,” OSHA is once again touting its response to the COVID-19 crisis, noting that since the beginning of the pandemic through October 1, 2020, it has cited 62 establishments for violations, bringing the total amount of proposed penalties to $913,133. Earlier, on October 2, the federal health and safety agency announced that it had cited 37 establishments for coronavirus-related violations, meaning that this latest update adds 25 more establishments to the tally, with additional proposed penalties totaling $429,064.

Delayed action? The agency issued citations to only one employer each in July (at three locations) and August 2020. The great bulk of citations were issued in September. Six establishments were cited on October 1.

Detail lacking. As is its current practice, OSHA provided no detail about the number of employees who were affected by illness, injury, or death related to coronavirus in the workplace. For many years, the agency typically has provided that sort of detail in its press releases, as well as a link to the citations issued. Currently, however, the agency is no longer linking to citations, even in non-COVID-19-related cases.

Fines. According to OSHA’s database, “Inspections with COVID-related Citations,” the largest proposed fine so far—$28,070—was issued on September 4, against Hackensack Meridian Health Residential Care Inc., The Harborage, in North Bergen, New Jersey. The second-highest proposed penalty of $26,988 was issued on September 30 against 515 Lamberts Mill Road Operations, LLC, a short- and long-term health care facility in Westfield, New Jersey.

Types of violations. In its October 9 press release, OSHA noted that its inspections have resulted in the agency citing employers for violations, including failures to:

  • Implement a written respiratory protection program;
  • Provide a medical evaluation, respirator fit test, training on the proper use of a respirator and personal protective equipment;
  • Report an injury, illness or fatality;
  • Record an injury or illness on OSHA recordkeeping forms; and
  • Comply with the General Duty Clauseof the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

OSHA also noted that resources for employers are available on its COVID-19 webpage.