The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on countless workplaces. While the social distancing guidelines have helped keep workers in some industries safe, health facilities and nursing homes are especially susceptible to the spread of the coronavirus.
Violations issued to company
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced in July of 2020 that two Ohio nursing homes were cited for failing to protect employees from the coronavirus. One healthcare company, OHNH EMP LLC, was given a violation for failing to provide respiratory protection standards for its employees. This comes after seven employees reported being hospitalized for coronavirus.
Three facilities run by OHNH EMP in Ohio were inspected by OSHA, including:
- Pebble Creek Healthcare Center in Akron
- Salem West Healthcare Center
- Salem North Healthcare Center in Salem
The violations of two respiratory protection standards were due to:
- Failing to develop a comprehensive written respiratory protection program
- Failing to provide medical evaluations to determine employees’ ability to use a respirator in the workplace
A Hazard Alert Letter was issued by OSHA in regards to OHNH EMP's practice of allowing N95 respirators to be used for up to seven days and failing to conduct initial fit testing. A fine of $40,482 was proposed. The company was required to comply with citations and penalties within 15 business days of receiving the violations.
“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.’”
Can I collect workers' compensation if I became sick with the coronavirus on the job?
If you became infected with the coronavirus, you may experience these symptoms listed by the CDC:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or pressure
- Fever and chills
- Body aches
- Loss of taste and smell
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Generally, COVID-19 isn't compensable by workers' compensation in Ohio. That's because it can be difficult to determine if an employee contracted the virus at work or somewhere else. However, there may be exceptions if you work in a profession (such as healthcare) that is at high risk of the spread of the disease.
If you became ill on the job and would like to know which legal options are available to you, contact the Ohio workers' compensation attorneys at Hochman & Plunkett Co., L.P.A. Our law offices are located in Dayton, Cincinnati, Springfield and Troy.