|Jan. 19, 2019 | www.fisherphillips.com|
As most in the healthcare industry know, the United States Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continues its scrutiny of the industry. According to OSHA, more workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance sector than in any other industry (manufacturing is second). This scrutiny, coupled with OSHA’s recent increase in penalties, punctuates the need for employers to remain focused on both traditional safety issues (e.g., bloodborne pathogens and ergonomics), as well as issues that historically get less attention in the industry.
Two related healthcare companies were forced to pay settlements with the federal government totaling over $500,000 over allegations relating to a data breach involving patient health information. Much of the negative attention could have been avoided had the companies updated their business associate agreement, which was found to be out of compliance with current rules. These government enforcement actions illustrate how state and federal governments are working in tandem to crack down on privacy protection – even where there is no evidence of actual harm stemming from a breach.
Most employers are well aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires them to engage in an “interactive process” with employees or applicants who indicate they have a disability and may require some type of reasonable accommodation. However, engaging in that process can often be time-consuming, requiring repeated communications with employees or applicants, their medical providers, and possibly other medical providers.