Georgia Nursing Home Cited for Delayed Reporting of Virus-Infected Workers

By and | June 1, 2020

The federal agency that oversees workplace safety said Friday that it had issued its first citation in the U.S. related to the coronavirus outbreak: against a Georgia nursing home that delayed reporting the hospitalization of six infected workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the citation the day after Democrats at a congressional subcommittee hearing in Washington accused the agency of being largely invisible during the pandemic and failing to protect workers at meatpacking plants and health care facilities with high infection rates.

The citation, dated May 18, states that Winder Nursing Inc., which operates a nursing home in Winder, Georgia, failed to report to OSHA within 24 hours the work-related hospitalizations of six employees. OSHA said the workers were hospitalized around April 19, but the agency wasn’t notified until May 5.

“During these historic times, OSHA will continue working to protect workers, including those in high-risk industries,” Kurt A. Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta, said in a statement.

The citation does not mention the coronavirus. An OSHA spokeswoman, Megan Sweeney, confirmed Friday that all six of the workers were infected with COVID-19.

OSHA proposed a $6,500 fine for the nursing home for a single violation that the agency concluded was “other than serious,” according to the citation.

According to the Georgia Department of Community Health, which tracks coronavirus cases in the state’s long-term care facilities, 88 residents and 27 workers at the Winder nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19, and 14 residents have died from the virus. The virus has killed more than 950 long-term care residents statewide.

Katy Callaway, the nursing home’s administrator, said Friday that she had not yet received the OSHA citation. She declined to comment further.

Sweeney said OSHA has received more than 4,500 coronavirus-related complaints but this is the first citation the agency has issued in response. She said the agency investigates every complaint.

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Daly reported from Washington.

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