Oakland Grove fined for allegedly failing to report employee death

Oakland Grove fined for allegedly failing to report employee death

WOONSOCKET – Oakland Grove Health Care Center has been fined $11,567 for allegedly violating a standard that requires companies to report the death of an employee as a result of a work-related incident within eight hours.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced on Friday the Woonsocket nursing home was among more than 200 establishments nationwide that have been cited for "violations relating to coronavirus." The list included companies that have violated reporting procedures and other standards during the COVID-19 crisis.

OSHA issued a citation to Athena Health Care Systems, the nursing home's parent company, on Nov. 3.

The press release did not contain detailed information about the violation. However, a database of citations on OSHA's website reveals the nursing home was cited for allegedly failing to comply with two of the agency's standards. The first requires companies to report occupational illness or injuries of employees to OSHA within seven days. The second requires them to report the death of an employee as a result of a work-related incident within eight hours.

In an email to The Valley Breeze, Tim Brown, spokesperson for Athena Health Care Systems, said the company is disputing the violation.

"We do disagree with the findings against the center and the matter is currently being appealed," he said.

Brown did not respond to a question regarding the nature of the violation.

"There is no greater priority for us than the health and safety of our patients and staff. COVID-19 is an insidious virus that has taken a tremendous toll on the vast majority of long-term care facilities in Rhode Island and beyond. Our hearts go out to all affected by this insidious virus," he said in a statement.

Megan Sweeney, spokesperson for OSHA, also declined to provide additional information beyond what was included on the agency's website without a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Oakland Grove was one of the local nursing homes that was hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. As of Nov. 11, the home had between 80 and 84 confirmed resident cases and between 20 and 24 resident deaths related to COVID-19.