OSHA fines hospitals for PPE failures related to COVID-19
Ensure workers are trained on and fit-tested for using respirators and are not sharing protective gowns as they care for potentially infectious patients, or you may face fines from OSHA.
At least two hospitals were cited following what OSHA called coronavirus-related investigations.
Bergen New Bridge Medical Center is facing $9,639 in proposed penalties after OSHA inspectors cited the hospital in Paramus, New Jersey, for “failing to fit test tight-fitting face piece respirators on employees who were required to use them. The hospital also failed to train employees on proper respirator use and ensure employees understood when to wear a respirator.”
Meanwhile, the Christus Shreveport-Bossier Health System in Shreveport, Louisiana, is facing $13,494 in proposed penalties — the maximum allowed by law — “for failing to ensure employees wore proper protective equipment.”
“OSHA opened a coronavirus-related investigation after receiving reports of employee exposure. The agency found that emergency facility employees often shared used protective gowns or did not have protective gowns to wear while treating patients,” according to the OSHA statement announcing the penalties at the Louisiana facility.
Both facilities now have the chance to defend or mitigate the citations, which could then result in reduced fines.
In March, in recognition of the ongoing N95 respirator shortages, OSHA said it was relaxing annual fit testing requirements, but only under certain circumstances. OSHA said facilities had to be providing workers with respirators that provide equal or higher protection than the N95 medical respirators, and the facility still had to conduct initial fit testing to “determine if the respirator properly fits the worker and is capable of providing the expected level of protection.”