Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A Watertown N.Y., laundry's alleged failure to protect workers against exposure to bloodborne pathogens, hazardous chemicals, falls and other safety and health hazards has resulted in $83,700 in proposed fines from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Northern Health Care Linen Services Inc. was cited for a total of 36 alleged serious and other-than-serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at its 135 Union St. plant following an OSHA inspection begun June 28 in response to an employee complaint.
"Exposure to blood and other infectious materials is a very real danger in this industry, and this employer did not provide employees with adequate protections against these hazards," said Chris Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse.
OSHA's inspection found that the company failed to provide Hepatitis B vaccination to employees who were exposed to bloodborne pathogens; did not provide follow-up care after an employee was stuck by a contaminated needle; and did not furnish puncture resistant gloves for employees who handled sharp objects contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious bodily fluids. The inspection also found that employees were not adequately trained on bloodborne pathogen hazards and were not provided with soap, towels and an unobstructed sink to wash their hands after removing contaminated gloves.
Additional hazards identified during the inspection included failing to maintain working conditions at the plant in as clean a condition as possible; lack of fall protection for employees working on the roof; obstructed exit routes; unguarded moving machine parts; and improperly maintained electrical equipment.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and fines to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Syracuse area office, located at 3300 Vickery Road, North Syracuse, N.Y., Telephone: (315) 451-0808.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure 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 OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department (DOL) releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor 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.