US Department of Labor cites Rhode Island medical practice, owner for exposing employees to coronavirus in North Providence, West Greenwich
PROVIDENCE, RI – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the owner-operator of four Rhode Island medical facilities for failing to protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus and implement proper safety measures after six employees tested positive for the virus in the fall of 2020.
OSHA investigators found the owner of North Providence Urgent Care Inc., North Providence Primary Care Associates Inc., Center of New England Urgent Care Inc. and Center of New England Primary Care Inc. willfully exposed employees to the coronavirus. The agency determined the owner continued to interact with workers and did not fully implement safeguards after he exhibited symptoms of the virus and later tested positive.
The owner and his companies face a proposed fine of $136,532 for failing to:
- Implement engineering controls, such as portable high-efficiency particulate air fan/filtration systems, and barriers between adjacent desks;
- Implement administrative controls, such as cleaning and disinfecting, and symptom screening of all employees; and
- Mandate contact tracing or quarantine periods after employee exposure to coronavirus-exposed patients.
“This employer placed workers and others at risk of contracting the coronavirus. Employers have a responsibility to isolate workers and themselves if they show symptoms of the virus,” said OSHA Area Director Robert Sestito in Providence, Rhode Island. “Protecting employees and patients by implementing timely and effective safeguards and controls to minimize exposure is critical to mitigating the spread of the virus.”
The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
On March 12, OSHA launched a national emphasis program focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.