OSHA fines FCPS transportation dept. in connection with COVID-19 outbreak

Fayette County Public Schools could soon be on the hook for thousands of dollars in fines.
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 11:33 AM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Fayette County Public Schools could soon be on the hook for thousands of dollars in fines.

Leaders with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, said the fines come after a months-long investigation into the school’s transportation department.

According to our news partners at the Herald-Leader, OSHA says they began the investigation in April after 19 employees tested positive for COVID-19 at the Miles Point bus garage. One employee, bus driver Eugenia Higgins Weathers, died.

Fayette County School officials told us they were the ones who reported that COVID death to OSHA. Now, the transportation department is facing a $9,000 fine.

Another employee, bus monitor Sarah George, spent weeks on a ventilator. She told us she learned about the outbreak from another employee.

“She got it first. And she put it on Facebook that she had it. She didn’t know how she contracted it, but they put her in the hospital and still we didn’t get any info whatsoever,” George said.

At the time she was part of the school system’s effort to deliver meals to students. She still works for the bus garage and hopes no one else has to go through what she did.

“I hope they will make a plan to tell, to implement and tell us when something is going on. Because all of us in the break room. I mean, they had us all in there like herds of cattle. And then about 50 of us in the next day everybody starting to fall off,” George said.

School spokesperson Lisa Deffendall sent a statement saying in part “after the heartbreaking loss of bus driver Eugenia Weathers to COVID-19, Fayette County Public Schools reported her passing to state Office of Occupational Safety and Health. Our intent by self-reporting was to invite an external review of our workplace measures to identify any areas of improvement needed.”

She also said the fines from OSHA were for not reporting Ms. Weathers' death within eight hours and not reporting the hospitalization of other employees within 72 hours.

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