OSHA to re-inspect healthcare facilities with COVID-19 citations, complaints
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a three-month increase in “highly targeted inspections” at sites previously cited or where complaints had been received but the agency was unable to provide an in-person response.
OSHA’s goal “is to expand its presence to ensure continued containment of the spread of COVID-19 and future variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and to protect the health and safety of healthcare workers with an increased risk of becoming infected with the virus,” says a press release about the new testing program.
“We are using available tools as we finalize a healthcare standard,” Doug Parker, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said in the release. “We want to be ahead of all future healthcare events.”
The inspection period is scheduled to last until June 9th. It includes targeted follow-up and surveillance inspections of four types of facilities:
- General medical and surgical hospitals
- Care facilities, including specialized care facilities
- Psychiatric and Addiction Hospitals
- Facilities for assisted living in old age
Since the beginning of the pandemic general medical and surgical hospitals Facilities triggered 1,120 complaints by March 2022, ranking second behind postal services among complaints from selected industries. With 591 complaints, skilled nursing facilities ranked third among select industry totals, according to OSHA data.
OSHA has been criticized for its response to general concerns about workplace safety and employee exposure to COVID-19 at companies.
In 2020, OSHA had 15% more complaints than the year before, but conducted 50% fewer inspections, according to a Revision February 2021 from the Office of the Inspector General of the US Department of Labor.
That same year, healthcare workers battling the pandemic reported a “amazing” 249% increase in injury and illness rates, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Labor.
In the recent announcement, OSHA recognized healthcare workers who have battled the coronavirus for two years.
“Many have put themselves at risk as they care for those who contract COVID-19 while working in high-risk environments that expose themselves and their families,” the press release said.