New OSHA COVID-19 Rules: Comply or Pay Up Big Time

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New OSHA COVID-19 Rules: Comply or Pay Up Big Time

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New OSHA COVID-19 Rules

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!

Source: https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/enforcement/


Meet Your Writer

Jen Godreau
CPC, CPMA, CPEDC, COPC

Content Director

Jennifer Godreau, CPC, CPMA, CPEDC, COPC, has almost 20 years of experience in billing, coding, compliance, and practice management. She develops the content and programs for Healthcare Training Leader, a practice-specific online training company offering step-by-step advice on increasing reimbursement and avoiding compliance violations. Prior to joining Healthcare Training Leader, Jennifer supervised the program delivery for EMRs, practice management systems and compliance and revenue cycle services for more than 6,000 providers. Thousands of software products - encoders, claims management, auditing, and HIPAA compliance, have been created with her teams and helped thousands of practices more easily reduce revenue losses and comply with complex regulations. Her passion for breaking down healthcare rules and requirements in simple steps has provided practical advice, education, and risk reduction strategies to numerous associations, payers and medical specialties especially in primary care, otolaryngology, eye care, and pediatrics. Jennifer’s advocacy resulted in supervision rule revisions, new CPT codes, and CMS compliance contracts. She oversaw the provider auditing and education for one of the major corporate integrity health system settlements. Jennifer has authored and presented on numerous healthcare compliance and payment challenges. Her education guides include the Certified Otolaryngology Coder (CENTC) exam study guide and the AAPC Professional Medical Coding Curriculum. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Arts from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. She holds certificates in coding, auditing, pediatric coding, and ophthalmology billing and coding, and is AAPC Vice President of the Naples, FL chapter. Please reach out to Jennifer for step-by-step guidance at editorial@hctrainingleader.com

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