A Monmouth County, N.J., manufacturer where two employees — a husband and wife — died from COVID-19 and dozens of other employees got infected has been fined more than $13,000 by OSHA for failing to protect its workers from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
The agency on June 10 announced the findings of its investigation into Eatontown-based biotechnology company Avantor Fluid Handling LLC, where two people died and two were hospitalized from the virus last fall, OSHA said in a news release. In total, 30 out of 50 employees at the facility tested positive for the coronavirus, OSHA said.
“Two workers lost their lives and others were sickened because their employer failed to take the precautions necessary to keep them safe,” said OSHA Area Director Paula Dixon-Roderick in Marlton. “Tragically, this case should remind all employers of the importance of fully implementing coronavirus prevention measures.”
Cases broke out at the Avantor Fluid Handling facility in November 2020, when the four employees tested positive for the coronavirus, two of whom — a husband and wife — died in January. An investigation was launched after the company alerted OSHA to the workers’ illnesses.
OSHA alleges that Avantor failed to enforce safety protocols that would have prevented the spread of the virus at the facility, such as social distancing and mask wearing in common areas. The company faces $13,653 in proposed penalties, and has 15 days to either pay the fine, contest the citation or request a conference with OSHA.
The company manufactures pharmaceutical ingredients, including those used to make the COVID-19 vaccine.
OSHA cited the company for violating the administration’s general duty clause, which requires employers to ensure workplaces are free of recognized hazards that may cause death or serious physical harm.