OSHA Cites New Jersey Medical Facility and Staffing Agency for Exposing Nurses to COVID-19 Hazards
After an investigation, it was found that there was unsafe respirator use while testing hundreds of people daily.
- By Shereen Hashem
- Aug 13, 2021
An OSHA investigation found that a Central New Jersey medical facility and temporary staffing agency failed to ensure the safety and health of nurses giving flu shots and testing potentially infectious patients for COVID-19 earlier this year. The investigation began in January following a complaint. The administration found that Lakewood Resource and Referral Center did not provide medical evaluations to determine each employee’s ability to use a respirator before requiring workers to use them. The company's employers also failed to fit test employees that were required to wear respirators.
According to a press release, OSHA proposed $273,064 after citing the facility for two willful violations. In 2020, OSHA cited* the facility for similar hazards after the company did not protect its staff with dental or medical care for the coronavirus. The investigation also shows that HomeCare Therapies failed to ensure medical evaluations were done and did not provide fit tests for workers required to use respirators, as well. The staffing agency was cited for two serious citations with $13,653 in proposed penalties.
“A safe and healthful workplace is every worker's right and every employer's responsibility,” said OSHA Area Office Director Paula Dixon-Roderick in Marlton, New Jersey. “In this case, both employers failed to protect vital frontline healthcare workers from exposure to the coronavirus.”
Founded in 2009, Lakewood Resource and Referral Center Inc. provides preventative, treatment and health education services in its surrounding areas. Licensed in New York and accredited in New Jersey, HomeCare Therapies LLC has operations in Manalapan. Read more about feasible and acceptable means of abatement for this hazard here.
On March 12, OSHA launched a national emphasis program focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law. On June 10, OSHA also issued an emergency temporary standard to protect healthcare workers from contracting the coronavirus. The ETS became effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register.
The employers have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent OSHRC.
Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.