Almost 40 businesses have been cited for workplace violations related to COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and nearly all of them have been healthcare companies, including skilled nursing and assisted living operators. That’s according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
The citations have led to $484,069 in proposed fines, mostly for violations such as failing to provide personal protective equipment or report injuries, illnesses or fatalities.
Among those citations are a proposed penalty of $13,494 to Jewish Home Lifecare, also known as the New Jewish Home, a nonprofit healthcare system with several skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities in New York. The firm received media attention last spring when refrigerator trucks appeared outside its facilities to serve as temporary morgues, according to an analysis Tuesday by Law360. It faces respiratory protection violations.
In Georgia, Arbor Management Services, the entity behind Arbor Company Senior Living, faces $13,494 in proposed penalties for a respiratory protection violation.
The media outlet indicated that OSHA came under scrutiny in the spring over lax investigations and enforcement of COVID-19 complaints. The agency issued its first citation related to the pandemic in May, even though it had by then received more than 4,500 complaints.
The DOL inspector general is reviewing OSHA’s COVID-19 response.
“Employers are and will continue to be responsible for providing a workplace free of known health and safety hazards,” a DOL spokesperson told Law360. “OSHA has pre-existing requirements and standards that not only remain in place and enforceable but also apply to protecting workers from the coronavirus.”
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