Several Employees were Hospitalized Following COVID-19 Exposure at an Ohio Auto-Parts Supplier

Several Employees were Hospitalized Following COVID-19 Exposure at an Ohio Auto-Parts Supplier

The company was cited for failing to enforce CDC and company policies for mask wearing and social distancing.

Responding to a complaint that a Findlay auto-parts supplier was ignoring guidelines to limit employee exposure to the coronavirus and that several employees were sick, OSHA found the company did not enforce its own policy or federal guidelines on social distancing and wearing masks. When OSHA first inspected the facility on August 12, 2021, 65 employees had tested positive for COVID-19. By August 31, 88 tested positive. During that time, five employees were hospitalized and two died. OSHA investigators determined that at least one of the deaths was work-related.

According to a press release, OSHA cited the company for one serious and one other-than-serious violation and proposed penalties of $26,527. OSHA found the company also failed to record the work-related death and notify OSHA within eight hours, as required.

“Sanoh America’s failure to follow health and safety guidelines and its own company policies resulted in worker illnesses and death,” said OSHA Area Director Larry Johnson in Columbus, Ohio. “OSHA continues to enforce all standards applying to the coronavirus and holds employers accountable for failing to meet their obligations to minimize worker exposure to the coronavirus.”

Federal investigators found Sanoh America issued a corporate-wide social distancing policy in March 2020 and trained employees in May 2020 on precautions for returning to work that included social distancing and mask wearing. However, the company did not follow these policies during the August 2021 breakout and OSHA inspection. Sanoh America is an auto-parts supplier specializing in tubular products for automotive applications. The company employs about “270 workers at the Findlay plant and has manufacturing locations in Alabama, Indiana and Ontario, Canada.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its notices to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or appeal the notices by submitting a summary of the agency’s position on the unresolved issues to OSHA’s regional administrator. Learn more about the agency’s resources on COVID-19 protection.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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