Hospital’s Respirator Use Draws OSHA Penalty

By By Dan Hounsell
March 1, 2021

The safety of workers in healthcare facilities has been an elevated priority since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, and that focus shows no signs of changing anytime soon. As a result, facilities will remain under scrutiny for their measures related to such safety measures as personal protective equipment and proper handwashing. One Chicago now finds itself in the spotlight for its use of safety measures.

A Northwest Side community hospital faces a possible penalty of almost $13,500 after it was cited late last year for not following federal guidelines related to respirator use for workers treating COVID-19 patients, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The action taken against Community First Medical Center in Portage Park followed an inspection that some nurses say was prompted by their complaints to federal regulators after the deaths of three of their colleagues who fell ill after being infected with the virus in 2020.

Community was cited for two “serious” violations in December, one for allegedly not testing the fit of respirator masks for employees and another for failure to provide a written “respiratory protection program” for workers, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration records.

The OSHA inspection was categorized as a fatality/catastrophe inquiry. The alleged violations were “grouped because they involve similar or related hazards that may increase the potential for injury or illness,” according to an OSHA document.

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