NAPERVILLE, IL — A Naperville warehouse is facing an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fine after claims that a work lunch in October led to 23 people coming down with coronavirus. One of those people died, according to an April 27 news release from OSHA.
The news release states that employees at the company started to report positive coronavirus tests shortly after the lunch. Midwest Warehouse and Distribution System, which has its headquarters in Woodridge, faces a fine of up to $12,228 for allegations that it violated OSHA’s general duty clause.
The clause states, in part, that employers “shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
The investigation in the October lunch also claims that “the company failed to take immediate steps to identify, inform, isolate and quarantine all potentially exposed employees” after the incident.
The 2885 W. Diehl Rd. facility temporarily closed on Nov. 4.
“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,” OSHA Area Director Jake Scott said in the news release.
Established in 1982, Midwest Warehouse and Distribution System is a logistics company with more than a dozen warehouses throughout the United States.
A representative from the company did not immediately respond to Patch’s request for comment and additional information Thursday afternoon.
According to Chicago Tribune, Midwest Warehouse and Distribution System intends to contest the OSHA fine. Aaron Gelb, an attorney for the company, told the Tribune, “We don’t believe that the evidence supports the citation.”
Gelb explained to Chicago Tribune that an employee picked up tacos on Oct. 23 and left them, wrapped, in the facility’s break room, where some employees ate them. Others, he explained, took them to their desks to eat.
Chicago Tribune also reports that the first employees called sick in with confirmed coronavirus diagnoses on Oct. 26. A woman, 56, who took part in the lunch died from coronavirus complications on Nov. 4.