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;
- 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.
In a statement, OSHA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Loren Sweatt, said, “It is critically important that employers take action to protect their employees during the pandemic, including by implementing effective respiratory protection programs,” adding, “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.'”
According to OSHA, the 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.
OSHA states that “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.”