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Illinois Warehouse Cited for $12K After Workplace COVID-19 Exposures & 1 Death

Posted on 5/10/2021 by Lauren Scott

OSHA issued a $12,288 safety citation to a warehousing and distribution company in Naperville, IL for alleged safety violations related to a company meeting that led to 23 workers contracting COVID-19, including one who died.

In fall 2020, workers gathered in the company breakroom for a luncheon. By October 27, workers began testing positive for COVID-19. The facility continued operations until November 4, when the worksite was shut down at the recommendation of the County Health Department.

Subsequent inspections allegedly revealed one serious violation of the OSH Act General Duty Clause, requiring employers to address all health and safety hazards in the workplace, which includes infectious diseases. OSHA says the company also allegedly failed to follow its own internally developed infectious disease controls or take immediate steps to identify, inform, isolate, and quarantine all potentially exposed employees.

OSHA proposed a $12,288 citation. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.
 

OSHA’s Emergency COVID-19 Rule Submitted for Approval

OSHA delivered its COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval at the end of April 2021.

The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) will likely move through this process faster than most new OSHA rules. If approved, the Final Rule may appear in the Federal Register within weeks.
 

Warehouses Prioritized Under New NEP COVID-19 Inspection Program

On March 12, OSHA launched a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to protect high-risk workers from hazards related to COVID-19 exposure. The program expands on OSHA's existing inspection efforts to prioritize companies with the highest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the virus.

The NEP adds programmed inspections for certain healthcare and general industry worksites in “Essential Critical Infrastructure.”

These are a few of the primary targeted facilities for programmed inspections:
  • General warehousing and storage sites
  • Meat/poultry processing plants
  • Animal slaughtering services (excluding poultry)
  • Home healthcare services
  • Assisted living facilities
Employers in these and other industries should start preparing now for potential coronavirus-related site inspections.
  

COVID-19 Safety Awareness Online Training

To help US workplaces safely resume and continue operations, Lion launched the COVID-19 Employee Safety Awareness Online Course. The course is designed to help satisfy training mandates for employees concerning COVID-19. 

The course prepares employees to:
  • Recognize signs, symptoms, and risk factors for COVID-19.
  • Describe how the COVID-19 disease is transmitted.
  • Follow recommended hygiene and work protocols to prevent exposure.
  • Properly use and care for PPE and face coverings, when required. 
This self-paced online course is updated continuously to reflect evolving information on COVID-19 workplace exposure. As more employees nationwide return to work, it is crucial that they know how to protect themselves and their co-workers from exposure to COVID-19.

Tags: coronavirus, COVID-19, osha, penalties, violations, warehouse, workplace safety

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