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Posted on: September 14, 2021

City of Santa Rosa Reaches Settlement with Cal/OSHA for COVID-19 Violations Issued Last September

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The City of Santa Rosa has reached a settlement agreement with Cal/OSHA for the four citations issued in September of 2020 to the City of Santa Rosa for COVID-19 and other health and safety violations.

The citations stemmed from a Cal/OSHA investigation opened following the tragic death of Santa Rosa Police Detective Marylou Armer from a COVID-19-related cause. It is standard practice of Cal/OSHA to initiate an investigation whenever there is a fatality that could have been caused by working conditions or the work environment.

The City of Santa Rosa takes the health and safety of all its employees very seriously and continues to implement best practices for COVID-19 prevention in the workplace. In the case of the September 2020 citations, the City took action to appeal the citations as they were based mainly on events in late February and March 2020, before information about the nature and extent of COVID-19 was known. In fact, the first Sonoma County Health Officer Order that included any safety protocols for employers was not even issued until March 31, 2020. The City, including its Police Department, implemented those protocols before the required deadline.

Cal/OSHA issued four citations and sought $32,000 in penalties. This matter has been settled as follows: 

  • The first citation, a regulatory offense related to record keeping, was reduced from $5,000 to $3,000.
  • Two citations, originally issued as “serious” violations, related to the management of employees with COVID symptoms. As part of the settlement, these citations were combined into one and lowered in severity to “notice in lieu,” which Cal/OSHA defines as not having a direct relationship to the health or safety of employees. Cal/OSHA initially proposed penalties of $6,750 for each citation and as part of the settlement agreed to waive all penalties. 
  • The final citation was for violation of SRPD’s Fit-Testing Procedure, which outlines the process to fit individual respiratory safety equipment. Fit testing is not directly connected with COVID-related issues but falls under the respiratory protection plan for aerosol transmittable diseases and the infraction was immediately remedied even before receiving formal notice of citation. This fine was reduced by 50 percent from $13,500 to $6,750.

The City of Santa Rosa will pay $9,750 in adjusted penalties.

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