NAPERVILLE, IL – A few days after employees at Midwest Warehouse and Distribution System Inc. gathered in its Naperville facility breakroom for a luncheon, some workers experienced symptoms consistent with coronavirus exposure. Employees began reporting to the company that they had tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 27, 2020. A U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation alleges the company failed to take immediate steps to identify, inform, isolate and quarantine all potentially exposed employees.
By Nov. 9, 2020, 23 employees tested positive for the coronavirus, including one worker who died from complications on Nov. 4, 2020.
OSHA’s inspection found the company failed to follow its own internally developed controls for potential coronavirus exposure or take immediate steps to contain the outbreak. On Nov. 4, 2020, following discussions with the DuPage County Health Department, the facility closed. The agency has proposed a penalty of $12,288 for one serious violation of OSHA’s general duty clause.
“This case is a tragic reminder of the importance of fully implementing coronavirus prevention measures that include wearing face coverings, physically distancing and quarantining workers who exhibit symptoms to protect other workers from coronavirus exposure,” said OSHA Area Director Jake Scott in Naperville, Illinois.
Read about feasible and acceptable means of abatement for this hazard and OSHA’s COVID-19 information and resources.
On March 12, 2021, OSHA launched a national emphasis program focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The program also prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.
Based in Woodridge, Midwest Warehouse and Distribution System is a full-service logistics company servicing grocery, liquor and beverage, electronics, automotive and other industries. The company operates 15 warehouses nationwide.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.
Learn more about OSHA.