September 19, 2020

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COVID-19 Likely Responsible for Hike in OSHA “Fatality/Catastrophe” Investigations at Healthcare Facilities

Compared to the first three weeks of April in 2019, April 1, 2020, through April 21, 2020, had a 720 percent increase in healthcare facility inspections in the “Fatality/Catastrophe” category. A stunning increase from 5 inspections in 2019 to 36 in 2020 during the same three weeks. Those inspections include hospitals and other medical facilities. The inspection information does not include any information about COVID-19, however, the massive increase in the category of inspections has no other explanation than the present pandemic and workers who have fallen ill or succumbed after contracting the virus. For an inspection to be categorized as “Fatality/Catastrophe,” a workplace fatality or the hospitalization of at least three workers with a workplace injury or illness must occur.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provides data related to OSHA inspections opened by either the federal agency or the state agencies, depending on jurisdiction. This information is helpful to understand trends and OSHA inspection activities. As previously noted in our April 19, 2020, article, we discerned a trend as healthcare facilities were found to be subject to inspections at a disproportionate rate when compared to establishments in other industries.

It should be noted that overall, the number of OSHA inspections in all industry categories across the country has declined, as it appears that many inspectors are only venturing out to investigate accidents or fatalities.

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 119

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About this Author

Karen Tynan, employment lawyer, Ogletree Deakins
Of Counsel

Karen Tynan is an of counsel attorney in the Sacramento office of Ogletree Deakins. Karen is originally from the state of Georgia, and after graduating with honors from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, she worked for Chevron Shipping Company for ten years – sailing as a ship's officer on oil tankers rising to the rank of Chief Officer with her Unlimited Master’s License as well as San Francisco Bay pilotage endorsement.  Karen was the highest ranking woman in the Chevron fleet when she left her seafaring life.  This maritime and petroleum experience is unique among employment...

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