A New Jersey company was hit with $13,600 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following the COVID-19-related deaths of a husband and wife.
Avantor Fluid Handling LLC, of Eatontown, was accused of failing to protect employees adequately from workplace exposure to coronavirus.
“OSHA’s inspection found that Avantor Fluid Handling LLC failed to ensure physical distancing and that employees wore face masks in common areas,” according to a news release. “The agency cited the company for violating OSHA’s general duty clause that requires employers to ensure workplaces are free of recognized hazards that may cause death or serious physical harm.”
In November 2020, four company employees tested positive for the virus and in January, two of the workers – the husband and wife – died from complications stemming from the virus. Eventually, 30 out of 50 employees tested positive for the virus, according to the news release.
OSHA alleges that safety protocols were not enforced and handed down $13,653 in proposed penalties.
In response, an Avantor spokesperson said the company is “in a constructive dialogue with OSHA regarding the matter.”
“Avantor is a manufacturer of vital ingredients for the production of pharmaceuticals, including COVID-19 vaccines,” the spokesperson said. “Our Eatontown, N.J., facility has for several years operated as a sterile, cleanroom environment where associates routinely wear masks, gowns and other important protective apparel as they manufacture technologies used in healthcare applications. To ensure the safety and well-being of our team members, which is our top priority, we consistently modified safety practices in response to emerging guidance from state and federal officials. As such, we are currently in a constructive dialogue with OSHA regarding the matter.”