OSHA wants you to know that they’re serious about you complying with COVID-19 rules – to the tune of 4 million dollars.
From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic through year end 2020, The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued penalties totaling just under 4 million dollars to healthcare businesses.
Adding insult to injury, in early January 2021, the DOL announced its Annual Adjustments to OSHA Civil Penalties in which it increased its maximum penalties. OSHA’s 2021 increased maximum penalties by type of violation are as follows:
|OSHA Violation Type||2020 Max||2021 Max|
|Serious and Other-than-Serious||$13,494||$13,653|
|Willful or Repeated||$134,937||$136,532|
Important: If you fail to resolve a violation by your provided abatement date, you can be fined an additional $13,653 per day.
The Biden Administration has promised to “increase the number of OSHA inspectors to get the job done.” This means the Agency will be responding to more complaints at a quicker pace.
Once auditors start snooping around at your practice, it’s easy for them to identify multiple penalties. This means that penalties can easily add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Considering the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on small to medium-sized practices across the country, there’s a distinct possibility that high-volume OSHA violations could lead to more closed offices.
Should you be found guilty of a violation, you will also be exposed to public public scrutiny. OSHA will list your practice name, location and the cost of your citations on their website.
Common OSHA Violations
Although OSHA is cracking down across the board when it comes to compliance with its COVID rules, there are three areas that have generated the most violations and highest penalties include:
- Availability and staff training and knowledge of personal protection equipment (PPE)
- Failure to report a COVID-19 related injury, illness or fatality
- Failure to record a COVID-19 related injury or illness on OSHA recordkeeping forms
As you might expect, since these offenses have most often been cited, the Agency is imposing new, stricter standards to them.
New COVID-19 OSHA Rules
The recently added Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace lays out the new rules. Some of the key components of this new guidance includes, but is not limited to:
- Requiring a COVID enforcement officer for your practice
- Involving staff in a thorough hazard assessment to identify potential workplace exposures
- Creating clear, ongoing communication of COVID-19 workplace safety policiesto your staff
- Creating a protocol to record and report COVID-19 cases while being sure PHI is kept confidential
- Responding to initial OSHA inquiries through its Rapid Response Investigation (RRI) process
- Devising a secure communication system that workers can use to self-report sickness or exposure
- Implementing new, stricter OSHA safety controls in the correct prioritized order
The new OSHA COVID-19 rules are extensive and varied. They include detailed changes to your staff, employee and patient communications and COVID-19 reporting. You MUST comply with these rules or risk being hit with huge violation fines.
Thankfully, there is expert assistance available to help you comply. On Tuesday, March 16th at 1 pm ET attorney and OSHA expert, Matthew Deffebach, will present an online training session that will provide you with the tools and techniques you need to create compliant documentation, accurately assess your practice’s hazards and avoid being targeted by OSHA.
After you attend this online, expert-led training, you’ll know exactly how to correctly implement the hierarchy of safety standards, create an audit-proof incident log and protocols and feel confident about your practice’s compliance. Registration for this online training is limited to ensure you can get all your OSHA COVID-19 rules questions answered. Don’t wait! Sign up today!