Monday, September 22, 2008
Contact: John Chavez
CONCORD, N.H. - Allcare Dental has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for alleged willful and serious violations of occupational health standards at its Nashua, N.H., dental office after an employee suffered a needlestick injury. The office faces $76,500 in proposed fines.
OSHA's inspection found that the office did not provide the injured employee with no-cost, post-exposure medical evaluation and follow-up, and did not have the blood of the source individual tested, as required under OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard.
In addition, the office's training program did not include the proper method of removing the capped needle from a syringe, did not explain procedures to be followed in the event of an exposure and did not provide an opportunity for employees to ask questions about the training. The office's exposure control program also was incomplete and not updated annually. Finally, the office did not use needles with engineered safety devices for user protection.
"OSHA standards spell out the steps that an employer must take to safeguard the health of employees whose duties may involve contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's area director in Concord. "It's vital that these safeguards be effectively implemented, communicated and kept up-to-date so that employees and managers know how to both minimize hazards and respond in the event of an exposure."
OSHA has issued Allcare one willful citation, with a $63,000 proposed fine, for not testing the source individual's blood for infection even after OSHA notified the office that this was required. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
Six serious citations, with $13,500 in proposed fines, have been issued for not providing the post-exposure evaluation and follow-up; not annually reviewing and updating the exposure control program; training deficiencies; and not using sharps with engineered sharps protection. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
OSHA's Web site provides more in-depth information about bloodborne pathogens and needlestick prevention on a page dedicated to that topic at www.osha.gov/SLTC/bloodbornepathogens.
Allcare Dental has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and fines to meet with OSHA or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Concord Area Office; telephone 603-225-1629.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.