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Texas is the #7 state with the most COVID-19 worker safety violations

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January 31, 2022
Joe Belanger // Shutterstock

Texas is the #7 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.

Texas by the numbers

- Total number of inspections with COVID-19-related violations: 39 (5,238 total inspections)
- Average number of standards cited per violation: 2.2
- Total amount of penalties issued: $288,921 ($7,408 average per establishment with violations)

The state of Texas has been in the spotlight in tussles over worker safety during the pandemic. Gov. Greg Abbott issued orders challenging federal regulations that required employees to be vaccinated and expanding options for workers to be exempted. In 2020, an OSHA investigation found that Peterbilt Motor Co. fired an employee who voiced concern about being exposed to the virus at the truck manufacturer’s facility in Denton, Texas. The Department of Labor followed up with a lawsuit, demanding the company abide by a federal labor law that forbids retaliation against whistleblowers. The lawsuit sought to have the employee reinstated to his former job, with back pay and punitive damages.

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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