OSHA Sets Record on Funeral Home Fine

OSHA put to rest a two year old case on Tate Funeral Home in Toledo, Ohio. The initial inspection was conducted on October 31, 2002. The case was not closed until September 24, 2004. OSHA proposed fines of $98,500. The case was finally settled with the funeral home agreeing to pay $68,950.

Both figures, the proposed fine and the settlement, are new records. The old records were held by two different Texas funeral homes. One had proposed fines of $80,000 and reached a settlement of $20,000. The other paid fines in excess of $50,000.

OSHA categorizes the severity of a violation as other than serious, serious, and willful. What made this fine so high is that Tate was deemed to have eight willful violations.

The following lists the standards in which violations were deemed to be willful.

Formaldehyde Standard 1910.1048 2 willful citations 5 serious citations
Bloodborne Pathogens 1910.1030 6 willful citations
Hazard Communications 1910.1200 2 serious citations
Respirator Standard 1910.134 1 serious citation

The inspection stemmed from a referral. Usually this means another government agency. In the past, garbage collection companies have been known to complain to a city, and then the city will usually pass it on to OSHA. Referral inspections are investigated the same as if an employee complains. In this case, it was a partial investigation, meaning the areas inspected were limited to areas that were in the complaint.

On a Related Matter

We can report that a funeral home was sued by an employee because they did not offer him a safety program. In this case, he did not complain to OSHA; instead he filed a civil suit against his former employer for anxieties and mental stress. He claimed that he could never work in the funeral industry again and demanded the employer provide him funds to be retrained in another line of work.

Our last report on this was that the attorneys on both sides were pursuing a settlement. The funeral home was offering $50,000 and the plaintiff was holding out for six figures.