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Three Long Island health care facilities cited for alleged workforce violations

Meadowbrook Care Center in Freeport was given a

Meadowbrook Care Center in Freeport was given a proposed fine of $12,145 for violating the regulation mandating medical evaluations before employees are fit-tested for respirators or required to use them at work. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

Three Long Island health care facilities recently were cited by the federal government for alleged coronavirus-related workforce violations and given proposed fines totaling nearly $22,000.

The alleged violations of U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards include not giving a medical evaluation to employees for the use of respirators, not fit-testing respirators on employees, and not reporting a work-related death of an employee to OSHA within eight hours, as legally required.

OSHA sets and enforces standards for workplace safety.

The citations announced Friday were among 35 nationwide that involve alleged coronavirus-related violations between Oct. 23 and Oct. 29, with proposed fines totaling $471,337.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the agency has proposed nearly $2.5 million in penalties that came from 179 inspections, OSHA said in a news release.

Meadowbrook Care Center in Freeport was given a proposed fine of $12,145 for violating the regulation mandating medical evaluations before employees are fit-tested for respirators or required to use them at work.

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Meadowbrook also was cited for violating a standard requiring that employees who are to wear a tight-fitting face respirator be fit-tested before using it.

OSHA did not respond to requests to detail the alleged violation at Meadowbrook and the type of respirator involved. Many health care employees wear N95 respirators, which are more effective than surgical masks in preventing the transmission of the coronavirus.

Mindy Grant, administrator of Meadowbrook, said the facility appealed the citations on Friday.

"They are waiting for the information they did not get originally because they didn’t ask for it," Grant said.

She declined to describe the type of information Meadowbrook sent or the alleged violations.

Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre was initially given a proposed fine of $9,639 for not reporting a work-related death within eight hours.

But the citation and fine were withdrawn "after the employer provided evidence of a good-faith attempt at complying with the standard in question," a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Labor said in an email.

East Northport Residential Health Care Facility Inc., the legal name for Huntington Hills Center for Health & Rehabilitation in Melville, was cited for the lack of a medical evaluation for employees using respirators. There was no proposed fine.

Administrator Ken Knutsen said the OSHA inspection of the center was done virtually and the center initially may have inadvertently not sent paperwork that documents the medical evaluation employees undergo before using N95 respirators. After sending the two-page evaluation form, OSHA told East Northport that the problem was "corrected during the inspection," he said.

The evaluation is to find out if the employee has asthma or other conditions that could affect their ability to wear a tight-fitting mask, Knutsen said.

OSHA did not respond to a request to verify whether East Northport’s citation was deemed corrected.

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