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OSHA reports finding greater compliance with COVID-19 safety rules

Updated July 9, 2020 - 7:31 pm

Fifty out of 56 businesses passed a second check this week after receiving warnings for not complying with COVID-19 safety requirements, state officials said Thursday.

Nevada’s Division of Industrial Relations Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported earlier this week that Southern Nevada businesses showed a 66 percent compliance rate with public mask-wearing mandates after Gov. Steve Sisolak’s June 26 order.

That was an improvement from the 49 percent compliance rate OSHA reported last week.

Between Monday and Wednesday, OSHA officials visited 56 businesses that previously received notice for possible noncompliance with measures such as face covering and social distancing requirements, the agency said, and found an 89 percent compliance rate on the second go-round.

During each visit, officials made observations at the businesses and compared them with OSHA guidelines and the governor’s directives, Nevada Department of Business and Industry spokeswoman Teri Williams said.

That included checking to make sure physical distancing requirements were followed or enforced and that employees wore masks while interacting with customers and warned those customers that masks were required before entering.

Williams said officials also factored in the odds of spotting an employee or customer who may be exempt from mask requirements in their observations, based on “a reasonable expectation and the specific circumstances” at the business.

Businesses received a warning if OSHA officials found evidence of noncompliance during the first visit and information on possible penalties for continued problems, the agency said.

Penalties are assessed based on the violation and the situation but can reach up to $134,940 per violation if businesses are found to demonstrate a “willful indifference to the health and safety of their employees.”

If investigators find “serious” persistent violations, businesses can be fined up to $13,494 for each instance.

Since the initial observations began in late June, OSHA officials have found 85 percent compliance in Northern Nevada and 72 percent compliance in Southern Nevada over the course of 1,564 initial visits statewide.

Details of noncompliance investigations, such as business names and locations, are confidential, OSHA said, but can be released after the cases are formally closed.

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

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