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OSHA fines Byron rehab facility alleging failure to follow COVID-19 rules

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently inspected and fined a Byron, Illinois, rehabilitation and post-acute care facility for failing to adequately protect healthcare workers in violation of federal safety regulations. According to an Oct. 20 news release from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), OSHA found deficiencies in respiratory protection, workplace barriers, hazard assessment, physical distancing, determination of worker vaccination status and creation of an adequate COVID-19 prevention plan.

Examples of COVID-19 workplace safety rule violations

The news release includes a link to the agency’s actual citation and notification of penalty, a fine of almost $40,000. The citation provides details about the alleged violations such as improperly fitted or malfunctioning masks, failure to install barriers between workers and between workers and the public, use of inadequate air filters, and failure to require physical distancing between employees, including unvaccinated workers with others.

We do not know whether the employer is contesting the allegations and fines.

Health care employees and coronavirus exposure at work

Any Illinois healthcare worker, front line worker, police, fire or other emergency services worker who believes they contracted COVID-19 in the course of their job duties or otherwise related to work should notify their employer and apply for workers’ compensation. This is true whether or not the employer followed state and federal safety regulations as workers’ compensation eligibility exists independent of any fault of the employer.

The state workers’ compensation laws and standards are complicated especially as they relate to the current health crisis and may change with new research findings and with the course of the pandemic. It is important to seek immediate advice from a workers’ compensation attorney if you find yourself in this kind of situation.