US Labor Department's OSHA cites Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford
for failing to effectively safeguard employees against tuberculosis
HARTFORD, Conn. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Charter Oak Health Center Inc. in Hartford for three alleged serious violations of workplace health standards involving inadequate safeguards for employees exposed to tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. OSHA's Hartford Area Office opened an inspection in February after receiving a complaint that employees had been exposed to a patient with tuberculosis and that the center's management failed to take appropriate action to protect workers. Proposed fines total $17,600.
The violations include the center's failure to have a system in place that promptly identifies, masks and isolates patients with suspected tuberculosis; and its failure to provide workers who had face-to-face contact with suspected or confirmed tuberculosis patients with training on the disease and a respiratory protection program. In addition, the center lacked a hazard communication program and hazardous chemical training. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"Employees were needlessly exposed to a potentially contagious infection due to the lack of basic protective measures that should have been in place," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's acting area director in Hartford. "An effective infectious control program would have established procedures and provided training and protective equipment to workers to minimize their exposure to tuberculosis and other infectious diseases."
Detailed information on protecting workers against tuberculosis is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/tuberculosis/index.html.
Charter Oak Health Center Inc. 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 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 Hartford office at 860-240-3152.
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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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.