Region 1 News Release: BOS 2001-167
Nov. 8, 2001
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
AMBULANCE FIRM FACES FINES FOR JOB SAFETY & HEALTH HAZARDS
BOSTON -- Failure to provide all required safeguards, including the Hepatitis B vaccine, to protect employees against bloodborne pathogens, has resulted in $60,100 in proposed fines against a Salem, Massachusetts-based ambulance service.
Following inspections conducted, in response to employee complaints, by the Methuen office of the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA has cited Northshore Ambulance for alleged willful and serious violations at its facilities in Salem, Peabody, Swampscott and Beverly, Mass.
"To protect workers who are exposed to bloodborne pathogens, employers must follow stringent procedures. Our inspection found that key health standards were not being met," said Richard Fazzio, OSHA area director for Northeastern Massachusetts.
"Northshore Ambulance did not supply employees with Hepatitis B vaccine in a timely manner and also failed to dispose of regulated waste in accordance with health regulations," he said. "As an ambulance carrier, this employer knew these requirements yet apparently chose to ignore them. Therefore, we are issuing a willful citation and proposing a $44,000 fine."
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
A fine of $16,100 is proposed for 11 alleged violations classified as serious, including failure to provide workers with initial bloodborne pathogen training, lack of decontamination procedures, failure to supply face shields and protective clothing, failure to launder contaminated uniforms, lack of containers or areas to dispose of contaminated materials and failure to review its exposure control plan. A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Citations and Proposed Penalties
Northshore Ambulance - Salem/Beverly/Peabody/Swampscott, Mass.
One alleged willful violation, with a proposed fine of $44,000, for:
- failure to handle regulated medical waste in accordance with applicable rules and failure to provide the Hepatitis B vaccination to employees with ongoing occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials.
Eleven alleged serious violations, with $16,100 in fines proposed, for:
- the exposure control plan contained no procedure for employees to decontaminate straps, backboards and other materials; failure to clean or launder uniforms contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials; failure to provide areas or containers for decontamination or disposal of personal protective equipment; failure to provide face shields or appropriate protective clothing for exposed employees;
- failure to annually evaluate engineering and work practice controls and incorporate changes in exposure control plan to reduce employee exposure to bloodborne pathogens;
- initial bloodborne pathogen training not provided to employees;
- doorway opened directly into a stairwell; no handrail for stairwell;
- parking spaces in front of exit door; defective emergency door;no signs indicating emergency exit direction from sleeping quarters; no exit illumination;
- unsecured oxygen cylinders;
- uncovered heating radiators;
- silverfish observed in living quarters;
- portable fire extinguishers not inspected monthly;
- electrical wires exposed to damage; exposed live wires; ungrounded electrical outlets; exposed live electrical parts (missing faceplates); extension cord used in place of fixed wiring.
|Total proposed penalties:
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.