US Labor Department's OSHA cites Schenectady, NY, medical lab for
inadequate worker safeguards against bloodborne pathogen hazards
Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings faces $58,000 in fines
ALBANY, N.Y. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings, headquartered in Burlington, N.C., for alleged repeat and serious health violations following a November 2012 complaint inspection of its Schenectady location by OSHA's Albany Area Office.
OSHA found that phlebotomy technicians who drew blood did not receive required training until after working with the blood. In addition, workers were not trained on procedures in the event of an exposure incident. OSHA's bloodborne pathogen standard requires employers to provide workers with regular training, which includes steps to take in the aftermath of an exposure, and to provide the training before workers begin working with blood. One repeat citation was issued with $38,500 in proposed fines. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar hazards were cited in 2011 at a Jersey City, N.J., facility.
"The failure of Laboratory Corp. to provide adequate and timely training needlessly placed workers at risk," said Kimberly Castillon, OSHA's area director in Albany. "The health and wellness of the Laboratory Corp. workers depends on this company promptly and effectively addressing these issues at all its locations."
Three serious violations, with $19,500 in proposed fines, include the failure to have specific procedures to inform workers on obtaining post-exposure care; update the exposure control program to reflect technological changes to eliminate or reduce bloodborne pathogen exposures; and train workers exposed to traysol, a chemical used in stabilizing and shipping blood samples, about its physical and health hazards. 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 in protecting the health and safety of employees in the workplace," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator for New York.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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.