Region 2 News Release: NY 111
Monday, January 25, 1999
Contact: Chester J. Fultz, (212) 337-2319
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY CITED BY OSHA FOR ALLEGED WILLFUL AND
OTHER SAFETY AND HEALTH VIOLATIONS: $77,500 IN PENALTIES PROPOSED
The U. S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Health Sciences Division, at 168th Street in Manhattan, and proposed penalties of $77,500 against the university, for one alleged willful, eight alleged serious, and seven alleged other-than-serious violations of OSHA standards. The university has until February 12 to contest the citations.
According to OSHA area director Robert D. Kulick, the actions results from an inspection of the premises conducted on July 23, 1998, following complaints about employee exposure to formaldehyde.
"It is a serious matter when an institution such as a university fails to comply with OSHA standards by exposing its employees to a dangerous chemical such as formaldehyde without providing proper protections," Kulick said. "We have taken appropriate action to hold the university accountable for not ensuring that all of their employees are provided with a safe and healthful workplace."
OSHA alleges that the university willfully violated the laboratory standard by failing to carry out the provisions of a written chemical hygiene plan. The alleged willful violation carries a total proposed penalty of $55,000.
OSHA also cited the university for eight alleged serious violations of the formaldehyde standard, including:
The alleged serious violations carry a total proposed penalty of $17,500.
Developing a sampling strategy for determining employee exposure to
not repeating initial and periodic personal monitoring.
not providing and ensuring the use of appropriate personal protective equipment.
not providing medical surveillance and a medical questionnaire for employees exposed to formaldehyde.
not developing a written hazard communication program for formaldehyde.
not providing information and training to employees in the hazards of handling formaldehyde.
In addition, the university was cited for seven alleged other-than-serious violations, including:
The alleged other-than-serious violations carry a total proposed penalty of $5,000.
not providing written notice of methods to be used to control exposure to formaldehyde.
not properly labeling waste and laundry containers.
not properly labeling containers of hazardous chemicals.
not providing appropriate waste and spill containment areas for hazardous chemicals.
not providing eye wash for employees exposed to formaldehyde.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard for, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSHA act and regulations. A serious violation is defined as a condition which exists where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Manhattan area office, located at 6 World Trade Center, Room 881, New York, N. Y. Telephone: (212) 466-2481.
This information will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request.
Voice phone:(212) 337-2319; TDD phone: 800-347-8029; OASAM TDD message referral phone number: 800-326-2577.