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(c) 2020 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, September 18, 2020

OSHA Cites Hackensack Meridian Health in North Bergen, New Jersey, For Failing to Protect Employees from Coronavirus

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Hackensack Meridian Health Residential Care Inc. OSHA issued two serious citations and one other-than-serious violation for failing to protect employees from exposure to the coronavirus at its North Bergen, New Jersey, facility. OSHA proposed a penalty of $28,070 for the violations.

Based on a coronavirus-related inspection, OSHA cited Hackensack Meridian Health for a serious violation for failure to provide respirators to resident-care employees for a period of time in March 2020. Employees were caring for residents who were exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus. OSHA also cited the employer for failure to conduct respirator fit testing, effective training and compliant medical evaluations, during the period after the employer began providing respirators to the employees and requiring their use. OSHA cited one other-than-serious violation for the facility’s failure to establish a fit-test record for qualitative fit tests.

"Employers must take appropriate steps to protect the safety and health of their employees during the pandemic," said OSHA Area Director Kris Hoffman, in Parsippany, New Jersey. "OSHA will continue to field and respond to complaints and take steps needed to address unsafe workplaces, including vigorous enforcement action for all standards that apply to the coronavirus, as warranted."

OSHA guidance details proactive measures employers can take to protect workers from the coronavirus, such as social distancing measures and the use of physical barriers, face shields and face coverings when employees are unable to physically distance at least 6 feet from each other. OSHA guidance also advises that employers should provide safety and health information through training, visual aids, and other means to communicate important safety warnings in a language their workers understand.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citation and penalty to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Employers with questions on compliance with OSHA standards should contact their local OSHA office for guidance and assistance at 800-321-OSHA (6742). OSHA’s coronavirus response webpage offers extensive resources for addressing safety and health hazards during the evolving coronavirus pandemic.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  jon@gelmans.com  has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Blog: Workers ' Compensation

Twitter: jongelman

LinkedIn: JonGelman

LinkedIn Group: Injured Workers Law & Advocacy Group

Author: "Workers' Compensation Law" West-Thomson-Reuters