YORK – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has handed down a citation and fine to a national health care provider after an assault on one of its employees, but the company's CEO says information released by the agency misrepresents its commitment to employee safety.
OSHA issued the violation to Epic Health Services, which operates in 17 states across the United States by providing in home health care. The violation stemmed from a sexual assault on one of the health care provider’s employees by a client. The sexual assault occurred in the client’s home.
Prior to the incident, another employee had allegedly warned Epic about sexual assaults happening. Additional reports of verbal, physical and sexual assaults on employees were also purportedly reported.
The employee reported the incident to OSHA, which investigated and determined that Epic failed to protect its workers from workplace violence. It further found that Epic put its employees at risk of physical assault while performing their jobs. It also found that Epic allegedly did not have a policy in place for the handling of these types of incidents or threats.
OSHA cited its General Duty Clause, which it said Epic willfully violated by not providing a safe work environment for its employees. Epic received a second violation for improper recordkeeping. A fine of $98,000 was handed down to Epic - $70,000 for the incident violation and $28,000 for the recordkeeping violation.
“Some of the information released by OSHA misrepresents Epic’s commitment to workplace safety,” Chris Roussos, president and CEO at Epic, told the Pennsylvania Record.
“We were disappointed to receive this citation from them, and we disagree with the allegations. Epic Health Services cares deeply about our employees and patients, and their safety is paramount to our operations. Epic will continue to work with OSHA regarding the matter and work toward full resolution.”
Epic maintains that it is cooperating with OSHA and has taken steps to remedy the situation, including no longer working with the client allegedly accused of sexually assaulting the caregiver.
“Epic is working with OSHA in an effort to help them understand both our industry and our dedication to workplace safety,” Roussos said.
“As soon as Epic was made aware of the sexual assault cited in the OSHA report, immediate measures were taken to remove the employee from the home for safety, investigate the situation, and provide the employee with ongoing support during the investigation process.
"Epic took immediate action to ensure the safety of our nurses, and we are no longer providing nursing services in the home where the alleged incident occurred.”
Regarding whether it has workplace violence program in place when the incident occurred, Epic said it did and is committed to educating its employees on the OSHA Training Program, which focuses on this aspect.
“The training and education of Epic employees is something we take very seriously,” Roussos said. “We continue to educate both new hires and current employees companywide on workplace violence through our OSHA Training Program, which we administer through our online learning management system.
"Included in the training are the various mechanisms by which they can report. Annually, the Epic Education Department reviews all training programs to enrich and augment what is currently in place for the following year. An enhanced workplace violence training was well in the works prior to Epic’s knowledge of this incident.”