An Illinois company faces a $12,000 penalty after one worker at a warehouse died and 22 others were sickened by the coronavirus, OSHA said.

Workers at the Midwest Warehouse and Distribution System Inc. of Naperville gathered in the facility breakroom for lunch in October 2020.

Within a few days, some workers experienced symptoms consistent with coronavirus exposure, OSHA said.

Then on Oct. 27, 2020, several workers began reporting to the company that they had tested positive for the virus.

An OSHA investigation alleges the company failed to take immediate steps to identify, inform, isolate, and quarantine all potentially exposed workers,

By Nov, 9, 2020, a total of 23 employees tested positive for the virus, including one who died on Nov. 4, OSHA said.

'Tragic Reminder'

The inspection found the company failed to follow its own internally developed controls for potential coronavirus exposure or take immediate steps to contain the outbreak.

The agency proposed a $12,288 penalty for one serious violation of its general duty clause.

“This case is a tragic reminder of the importance of fully implementing coronavirus prevention measures that include wearing face coverings, physically distancing, and quarantining workers who exhibit symptoms to protect other workers from coronavirus exposure,” said OSHA Area Director Jake Scott.

OSHA launched a national emphasis program in March 2021, focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus.

The program also targets employers who retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).