OSHA has cited a Missouri auto parts manufacturer for failing to implement and enforce coronavirus protections, which ultimately lead to an employee’s death. The details, from OSHA’s news release.
Two machine operators … who jointly operated a press tested positive for the coronavirus just two days apart, in late August 2020. The two workers typically labored for hours at a time less than two feet apart; neither wore a protective facial mask consistently. Ten days later, two more workers operating similar presses together tested positive. On Sept. 19, 2020, one of the press operators fell victim to the virus and died.
The total penalty? $15,604. For someone who died during a global pandemic because of his employer’s irresponsibility.
Since the pandemic started, OSHA has issued citations arising from more than 300 inspections for violations relating to coronavirus. The average penalty is $13,101.27.
While I understand that OSHA lacks a specific standard covering most COVID-19 issues, these numbers seem awfully low. Look, I’ll be the first one to tell you that more government regulation and control is a bad thing. But, if employers aren’t motivated by the carrot to take COVID-19 seriously (that being, having a healthy and safe workplace with employees who believe you care about their welfare), then perhaps they need the stick. $13,000, or $15,600 when someone dies, however, seems like a pretty small stick.
This post originally appeared on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and was written by Jon Hyman, Partner, Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis. Jon can be reached at via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, via telephone at 216-831-0042, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.