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June 15, 2015 BOS 2015-120

East Greenwich, Rhode Island, health clinic provider
lacks effective blood hazard safeguards
Provant Health Solutions' employee sustains preventable needlestick injury

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – An East Greenwich company that conducts wellness clinics throughout the U.S. inadequately protected its employees against exposure from contaminated needlesticks and bloodborne pathogen hazards*, an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found.

OSHA began an inspection of Provant Health Solutions LLC in November 2014, after an employee complained that a used needle punctured him as he unpacked a box in the company's mailroom. The company ships clean needles and other medical supplies to clinics. After use, the contaminated needles are shipped in unmarked boxes back to the company's headquarters for disposal by a private biohazard removal service.

OSHA inspectors determined that the packages in use did not effectively protect employees from needlesticks as boxes were unpacked. They also noted that needles could fall out of boxes into a shipping container, which happened at least twice. Boxes lacked required warning labels, and the company did not use an authorized carrier to return the contaminated needles to Provant's headquarters. The company also lacked an effective program to minimize needlestick injuries. It also failed to train employees about hazards, as required, and did not record injuries properly.

"This company needlessly exposed its employees to preventable injuries and illnesses that can result from being punctured by contaminated needles and also lacked required safeguards," said Patrick Griffin, OSHA's area director for Rhode Island. "Unless Provant Health Solutions updates, changes and improves its handling of needles and other bloodborne pathogen hazards, its employees will remain at risk."

The inspection has led OSHA to cite Provant for nine serious and one other-than-serious violation of OSHA standards. Proposed fines total $62,000.

Provant Health Solutions has more than 13,000 employees. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Providence Area Office at 401-528-4667.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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Media Contacts:

Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075, fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov
Andre J. Bowser, 617-565-2074, bowser.andre.j@dol.gov

Release Number: 15-1136-BOS


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