OSHA Fines Employer For COVID-19 Health And Safety Violations Over Worker Death
On October 7th, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that the United States Department of Labor (DOL) has approved a $23,406 fine for the Denver location of an El Paso, TX based insurance agency that failed to put proper health and safety protocols in place to protect workers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Tragically, OSHA believes that an employee died of COVID-19 because of exposure caused by a workplace safety violation. In this article, you will find a more detailed overview of OSHA’s findings and COVID-19 workplace safety regulations in general.
Fred Loya Insurance Agency Inc. Cited for COVID-19 Safety Violations After Worker Death
Fred Loya Insurance Agency Inc. is an insurance agency with more than 500 locations nationwide. The company is a subsidiary of the Loya Insurance Group. The workplace safety investigation at issue in the case pertains to a Fred Loya branch office located in Denver, Colorado. Sadly, one of the employees of Fred Loya in Colorado passed away earlier this year after contracting COVID-19. In April of 2021, OSHA initiated a comprehensive investigation into the death after receiving a complaint indicating that:
- The employee may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace; and
- The employer failed to follow the proper health and safety regulations.
OSHA has now completed its investigation and released its findings to the public. The federal workplace health and safety regulator made two key findings. First, OSHA determined that Fred Loya’s Denver branch office lacked proper social distancing protocols. Further, the agency also found that the employer did not have a plan in place to deal with potential exposure. As a consequence, the company “allowed symptomatic workers to remain on site.” The insurance agency is faced with a proposed financial penalty of $23,406.
Employers Play an Important Role in Stopping the Spread of COVID-19
OSHA has published regulatory guidelines related to COVID-19 for employers. These guidelines are designed to help ensure that workers are kept as safe as possible from COVID-19 exposure given the current risks. Federal and state workplace safety regulators have consistently emphasized the fact that employers have an important role to play in stopping the spread of the virus and protecting their individual employees. OSHA highlights the following four recommendations for employers:
- Employers should work to facilitate the vaccination of workers;
- Employers should take action to remove symptomatic people from the workplace;
- Employers should implement proper social distancing and sanitizing practices; and
- Employers should provide their workers with the proper masks or facial coverings.
A company that fails to comply with an applicable federal or state workplace safety guideline could face civil sanctions. Notably, workers have the right to file an OSHA complaint or otherwise report suspected violations without facing any retaliation from their employer.
Get Help From an Employment Lawyer in Florida
All employees deserve safe, fair working conditions. If you or your loved one was subject to an unhealthy environment because of an employer OSHA violation, immediate action is required. An experienced Florida employment law attorney can help you determine the correct course of action.