With COVID-19 surging as the United States enters the winter months and holiday season, employers in all industries can expect to grapple with significant COVID-19 hazards for the foreseeable future. Employers in the healthcare industry though are doubly burdened not only by increased workloads stemming from higher numbers of ill patients, but also by increased health and safety risks for their workers. Accordingly, healthcare employers should pay close attention to guidance and updates from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and implement appropriate plans and protocols—if not already in place—to address COVID-19 hazards to their workers.
OSHA recently announced that, through November 5, 2020, it had issued 204 citations based on alleged violations related to COVID-19. These citations resulted in $2,856,533 worth of proposed penalties and generally stemmed from complaints, referrals, or fatalities in a number of essential industries, such as “hospitals and healthcare, nursing homes and long term care settings, and meat/poultry processing facilities.”