Thursday, April 15, 2021

Coronavirus Update 4-15-2021: OSHA finally gets real about Covid safety

Consider the following Covid safety and health violations OSHA recently uncovered at a Massachusetts tax preparation business.

  • Employees and customers were prohibited from wearing face coverings in the workplace despite a statewide mask order that mandated the business to require employees and customers to wear masks.
  • Employees were required to work within 6 feet of each other and of customers for multiple hours while not wearing face coverings.
  • Adequate means of ventilation in the workplace were not provided.
  • Controls such as physical barriers, pre-shift screening of employees, enhanced cleaning, and other methods to reduce the potential for person-to-person transmission of the virus were not implemented.
What did these violations cost this employer in OSHA penalties? $5,000? $10,000? $25,000? 

How about $136,532!

According to OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston, "This employer's willful refusal to implement basic safeguards places her employees at an increased risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus. Stopping the spread of this virus requires business' support in implementing COVID-19 Prevention Programs, and ensuring that staff and customers wear face coverings and maintain physical distance from each other."

This appears to be the first company cited under OSHA's recently launched national emphasis program focusing on Covid enforcement efforts. If you've waited for the past 13 months without taking Covid safety seriously in your business, you better do so now. OSHA is watching, and based on this one example, violations are going to be quite expensive.

* Image by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash