July 21, 2020
U.S. Department of Labor Cites Ohio Nursing Facilities for Failing to Fully
Implement Respiratory Programs to Protect Employees from Coronavirus
CLEVELAND, OH – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited healthcare company OHNH EMP LLC for violating respiratory protection standards following an inspection initiated after the company reported the coronavirus-related hospitalization of seven employees.
OSHA inspected three OHNH EMP facilities in Ohio: Pebble Creek Healthcare Center in Akron, and Salem West Healthcare Center and Salem North Healthcare Center in Salem. OSHA cited each location for a serious violation of two respiratory protection standards: failing to develop a comprehensive written respiratory protection program and failing to provide medical evaluations to determine employees' ability to use a respirator in the workplace. OSHA also issued a Hazard Alert Letter regarding the company's practice of allowing N95 respirator use for up to seven days and not conducting initial fit testing. The agency has proposed $40,482 in penalties.
"It is critically important that employers take action to protect their employees during the pandemic, including by implementing effective respiratory protection programs," said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. "OSHA has and will continue to vigorously enforce the respiratory protection standard and all standards that apply to the coronavirus. As Secretary Scalia has said, ‘the cop is on the beat.'"
"OSHA's investigation found that, although the company was making efforts to protect its employees from the coronavirus, it had not fully implemented an appropriate respiratory protection program," said OSHA Cleveland Area Office Director Howard Eberts. "Employers are and will continue to be responsible for providing a workplace free of serious recognized hazards. In issuing this citation, OSHA relied on one of its preexisting standards that protect workers from the coronavirus."
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Employers with questions on compliance with OSHA standards should contact their local OSHA office for guidance and assistance at 800-321-OSHA (6742). OSHA's COVID-19 response webpage offers extensive resources for addressing safety and health hazards during the evolving coronavirus pandemic.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
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Release Number: 20-1392-CHI
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