IN THE NEWS – NURSING HOMES FAIL TO REPORT COVID-19 DEATHS TO OSHA
Many California nursing home workers have been dying of COVID, but the industry is failing to inform state watchdogs, a Sacramento Bee review of state records shows. California’s health department regularly updates a list of COVID-19 infections and deaths at nursing homes. But only about half of the listed facilities have bothered to report the deaths to Cal/OSHA, the agency in charge of enforcing worker safety.
The lack of reporting makes nursing homes inherently more dangerous, worker advocates say, because it obscures where poor workplace conditions are seeding community outbreaks. “Nursing home administrators really have to be held accountable for failing to protect workers,” the head of the Service Employees International Union said. The long-term care industry employs some 147,000 workers to help care for an estimated 88,000 California seniors in nursing homes. According to Public Health’s database, 109 nursing homes have had employees die from COVID-19 as of mid-December. Yet only 45 of those facilities notified Cal/OSHA of either hospitalizations or deaths!
OSHA requires facilities to report each time:
- an employee is hospitalized
- an employee dies on the job
- someone has symptoms while working
- a worker is exposed to people known to have the disease and later tests positive
The Sacramento Bee reporter believes that the reason certified nursing assistants and vocational nurses, who are among the lowest-paid workers in the healthcare industry, don’t speak up is that they are often minimum wage people, disproportionately women of color who fear retaliation if they reveal the truth.
For the same reasons, employees often fail to speak up about medical malpractice and patient neglect and abuse in nursing homes. Because our personal injury attorneys at Ramey & Hailey Law have more than 40 years of experience dealing with medical malpractice and nursing home neglect and abuse, we are able to recommend and carry through the appropriate course of action on behalf of nursing home patients.