By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday put a positive spin on the upshot of two inspections by the California Division of Occupational Health and Safety, or “Cal/OSHA,” of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in the Los Angeles Civil Center and heralded its exoneration of any fault relating to the COVID-related death of an employee.
In a press release, it pointed out that a report issued on Wednesday by Cal/OSHA tells of a determination “that no standard, rule, order or regulation...has been violated in connection with the” death in December of interpreter Sergio Cafaro who worked at the Foltz courthouse at 210 West Temple Street, between Broadway and Spring Street.
“This is a significant finding,” court Executive Officer/Clerk Sherri R. Carter is quoted as saying, adding:
“Court management has worked very hard to develop policies, procedures, online and remote programs, training and guidance to enforce Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health directives in an effort to support an environment as safe as possible during the unprecedented pandemic.”
No Penalties Assessed
Although the lead story in the Los Angeles Times yesterday bore the headline, “L.A. County court fined for COVID violations,” the press release stresses that the penalties (amounting to $25,250) are merely “proposed” and “not yet assessed.”
“The court will be appealing these proposed penalties due to important information we believe Cal/OSHA has not been provided.”
While Cal/OSHA alleges a failure by the court to report a COVID-related hospitalization within eight hours and proposes a $5,000 penalty, the release says that court records show that a timely report was, in fact, made.
The administrative body alleges that the court failed to provide COVID-19 prevention training to all court interpreters and seeks a $13,500 penalty. The court said this is “currently being abated” by court management, and noted:
“Throughout the pandemic, the Court has provided extensive health and safety information, communication, FAQs, Town Halls and training regarding COVID prevention.”
A $6,750 fine is proposed based on an alleged failure of the court to make sure social distances was practiced in the interpreters’ lounge. The press release responds:
“Court management has developed strict policies around social distancing, including disciplinary actions for employee violations, and an anonymous hotline to report COVID violations.
“In addition, over 100,000 signs throughout all 37 courthouses, including the Interpreters’ Employee Lounge included in the report, were installed to further enforce social distancing.”
“While the court looks forward to providing Cal/OSHA with more information during the appeals process, court management is open to hearing if there are ways we can improve.
“We have prioritized the health and safety of all who work in and use our courthouses since March 2020 while continuing to provide access to justice. We are concerned by each COVID infection and look forward to a future when the pandemic no longer endangers the public we serve or the employees we so highly value and protect in the largest trial court in the nation.”
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