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Massachusetts is the #6 state with the most COVID-19 worker safety violations

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January 31, 2022
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Massachusetts is the #6 state with the most COVID-19 worker safety violations

As the coronavirus struck, safety at the workplace urgently became more important than ever. Newspapers and televisions were filled with vivid images and stories of workers crowded into close quarters, lacking personal protective gear. More recently, workplace safety issues have extended to whether employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a requirement of their employment.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s watchdog, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, conducted thousands of inspections into possible violations, resulting in fines totaling about $4 million in the first two years of the pandemic.

Uplift Legal Funding has identified the states with the most federal COVID-19-related worker safety violations, using OSHA data from July 2020, when the agency first issued COVID-19-related inspection guidance, through December 2021.

Read on to see how your state's working population has fared during the COVID-19 pandemic or see the national story here.

Massachusetts by the numbers

- Total number of inspections with COVID-19-related violations: 42 (1,526 total inspections)
- Average number of standards cited per violation: 3.6
- Total amount of penalties issued: $723,377 ($17,223 average per establishment with violations)

Nearly all of the cases of COVID-related violations cited by OSHA in Massachusetts involved nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Among other businesses, Liberty Tax Service in Lynn, Massachusetts, was hit with a $136,500 fine by OSHA in April 2021 for willfully violating the coronavirus safety protocols. OSHA said the company did not provide for adequate social distancing, ventilation, or cleaning, and the owner prohibited workers and customers from wearing face masks, despite a state mandate. A judge later ordered the tax prep company to close. Also in 2021, the U.S. Postal Service in Springfield, Massachusetts, was issued a $35,000 fine in a COVID-related case for violating a federal labor law that requires workplaces to be safe and free from hazards to employees.

Nationwide, 22 states chose to run their own OSHA-approved workplace safety programs. These states set their own COVID-19 safety standards, and OSHA only holds jurisdiction over federal employees in these states. Another six states, including New York and Maine, have worker safety programs for state and local government workers, but rely on OSHA to oversee the private sector.

Due to OSHA's limited capacity to complete inspections and its limited scope across certain states, a state’s ranking doesn’t necessarily reflect that its establishments were more prone to flouting COVID-19 restrictions—only that enforcement mechanisms caught more of the violations.

Take a look at the top five states with the most COVID-19 worker safety violations, and stay safe.

States with the most federal COVID-19 worker safety violations

#1. New Jersey: 144 inspections with COVID-19-related violations (1,814 total inspections)
- Total amount of penalties issued: $2,333,025 ($16,202 average per establishment with violations)
#2. New York: 97 inspections with COVID-19-related violations (2,177 total inspections)
- Total amount of penalties issued: $1,245,893 ($12,844 average per establishment with violations)
#3. Ohio: 60 inspections with COVID-19-related violations (2,718 total inspections)
- Total amount of penalties issued: $781,540 ($13,026 average per establishment with violations)
#4. Illinois: 49 inspections with COVID-19-related violations (2,578 total inspections)
- Total amount of penalties issued: $776,546 ($15,848 average per establishment with violations)
#5. Pennsylvania: 45 inspections with COVID-19-related violations (2,425 total inspections)
- Total amount of penalties issued: $476,940 ($10,599 average per establishment with violations)

This story originally appeared on Uplift Legal Funding and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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