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Iowa General Assembly cited for OSHA violations; COVID-19 hazards also identified

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 4:00 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - The Iowa General Assembly was cited for a handful of violations of workplace safety rules, along with issues with the legislature’s COVID-19-related precautions that were identified by inspectors but not listed as a violation of state law.

The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the report, including citations, on April 13, following inspections that took place at the statehouse between January and April. The report noted one citation listed as serious, and four others defined as other-than-serious. The violations would constitute fines of $10,439, though OSHA included an agreement for a reduction of penalties by half, or $5,219.50, given compliance with remedies to the violations.

The original complaint was filed with OSHA by an employee on behalf of the AFSCME and Iowa AFL-CIO labor unions.

The serious violation was for a faceplate of an outlet box being removed, which could have exposed employees to a shock or burn hazard. This was seen by inspectors on January 28. The other-than-serious violations were related to improper recordkeeping of injuries or illnesses at the statehouse, as well as communication about, documentation on, and labeling for containers of potentially hazardous chemical cleaners.

The report that was sent to the General Assembly included a letter, addressed to Republican statehouse leadership, describing issues with the COVID-19 mitigation procedures at the statehouse. Notably, the letter said that these issues did not rise to the level of a violation of state law, but that they could expose employees to the virus.

Included in the COVID-19-related issues were a lack of consistent social distancing between individuals, temperature checks and health screenings for the virus were not being performed on all people entering the state capitol building, no requirement for employees to report a positive COVID-19 test result to leadership, and lack of identification if any cases that were reported were work-related.

Leaders at the General Assembly have agreed with state OSHA officials to correct the violations that were listed as citations and provide documentation showing that they were remedied. Inspectors may return to the statehouse within six months to analyze the COVID-19-related issues again.

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