Employer Facing $164K OSHA Fine in Visiting Nurse’s Death

By Guy Burdick

A pair of home healthcare providers face $163,627 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fines following the death of a licensed practical nurse during a home visit in Willimantic, Connecticut, the agency announced May 1.

OSHA cited Jordan Health Care Inc. and New England Home Care Inc., both doing business as Elara Caring, with one willful violation under the agency’s General Duty Clause for not developing and implementing adequate measures to protect employees from the ongoing hazard of workplace violence.

Agency investigators determined that Elara Caring exposed home healthcare workers to workplace violence from patients who exhibited aggressive behavior and were known to pose a risk to others. They concluded that Elara Caring could have reduced the hazard of workplace violence by:

  • Performing root cause analyses on incidents of violence and near misses,
  • Providing clinicians with comprehensive background information on patients before home visits,
  • Providing emergency panic alert buttons to clinicians, and
  • Developing procedures for the use of safety escorts for visits to patients with high-risk behaviors.

On October 28, 2023, police said nurse Joyce Grayson went to administer medication to Michael Reese at a halfway house for sex offenders in Willimantic, according to CTInsider. Grayson later was found dead by asphyxia due to neck compression. Reese, 39, was charged with murder, felony murder, and criminal attempt to commit sexual assault on April 19.

OSHA also cited the employer with one other-than-serious violation for not providing work-related injury and illness records to the agency within four business hours.

“Elara Caring failed its legal duty to protect employees from workplace injury by not having effective measures in place to protect employees against a known hazard, and it cost a worker her life,” Charles D. McGrevy, OSHA’s Hartford, Connecticut, area office director, said in an agency statement.

There is no federal workplace violence prevention standard, but the agency cites employers following worker injuries, hospitalizations, or deaths using its enforcement authority under the General Duty Clause (§5(a)(1)) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. OSHA has a rulemaking to establish a federal standard for workplace violence prevention in health care and social assistance. The agency issued a request for information in 2016 and concluded a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) review of the rulemaking last year.

OSHA has a set of voluntary guidelines for workplace violence prevention in healthcare and social assistance.