A thousand OSHA complaints filed in SC, only a handful cited

The Investigators

Posted: Apr 20, 2021 / 10:33 AM EDT Updated: Apr 20, 2021 / 11:26 AM EDT

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Complaints made to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration surged in March as workplace safety made headlines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

State Deputy Director, Katrina Baker told News 2 the majority of complaints centered around hand washing practices, social distancing, and cleaning protocols.

“They are concerned about the notice they are receiving, other infected employees in the area, when they will return to work, and how they will return to work,” said Baker.

She said employers are responsible for being aware of guidelines and following them.

“They are based on the needs of that employer’s worksite. Every worksite is different from the number of employees they have to the configuration of the worksite,” she said.

OSHA received 1,061 complaints from South Carolina employees related to the Coronavirus in the past year.

Popular bars, restaurants, and hospitals made the list along with others.

Out of the 772 closed complaints, OSHA cited seven employers. Two of the cited cases were the result of COVID-19 fatalities.

Baker said every employer is contacted following a complaint.

The pandemic altered some of the traditional investigative procedures like relying on video calling sites for interviews, and on-site visits. But Baker said she is confident the complaints are being investigated thoroughly.

“What we found is that most employers were really trying their level best. The number [of people who were cited] are the people who really weren’t,” she said.

All seven of the citations issued were for OSHA related respiratory standards and some citations had more than one violation.