US Labor Department's OSHA cites Newburgh, NY, medical practice for
inadequate worker safeguards against bloodborne pathogen hazards
Orange Medical Care PC faces $44,800 in fines
ALBANY, N.Y. ¿ The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Orange Medical Care P.C. for alleged willful and serious violations of occupational health standards for failing to protect its workers adequately against potential bloodborne pathogen hazards. The Newburgh medical practice faces a total of $44,800 in fines following a complaint inspection begun in September 2012 by OSHA's Albany Area Office.
OSHA issued the medical practice one willful citation, with a fine of $28,000, for using nonengineered hypodermic needles instead of safer needle devices, such as needleless systems and sharps with engineered sharp protections. OSHA standards require that the safer devices be used at all times. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
OSHA regulations require that employers establish and maintain a written exposure control program outlining the protective measures used to eliminate or minimize workers' exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials. OSHA's inspection found that Orange Medical Care lacked such a program to protect its workers, who face exposure when performing daily tasks, such as administering vaccinations and drawing blood.
"This employer's failure to implement basic, recognized and effective safeguards needlessly places the health and well-being of employees at risk," said Kim Castillon, OSHA's area director in Albany. "Compounding this is the use of traditional hypodermic needles when safer needle devices are available. These conditions must be corrected promptly and effectively to minimize and eliminate this exposure hazard."
Orange Medical Care also failed to provide its employees with training and properly sized protective clothes. The employer did not offer the Hepatitis B vaccine, allowed sharps disposal containers to routinely overfill and let employees recap contaminated nonengineered needles, a practice known to increase the likelihood of needle sticks. These conditions, plus the lack of an exposure control program, resulted in six serious citations, with $16,800 in fines. 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.
More information about bloodborne pathogen hazards and safeguards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/bloodbornepathogens/index.html.
"An effective illness and injury prevention program in which management and employees work together to identify and prevent hazardous conditions, such as these, is a key tool to protect employees' safety and health in the workplace," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator for New York.
Orange Medical Care has 15 business days from receipt of those citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with the OSHA 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 Albany office at 518-464-4338.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.