US Department of Labor's OSHA cites national janitorial services company
with multiple safety violations for exposing Montana workers to hazards
BILLINGS, Mont. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Healthcare Services Group Inc. with five safety violations – including three serious and two repeat – for exposing workers to multiple hazards at the Missoula Health and Rehabilitation Center, a skilled nursing home in Missoula. Proposed penalties total $58,300.
Pennsylvania-based Healthcare Services Group employs about 37,000 workers nationwide and provides janitorial services to the healthcare industry. The Missoula Health and Rehabilitation Center is affiliated with Vancouver, Wash.-based EmpRes Healthcare LLC, which operates licensed nursing homes and assisted living communities in six states.
The serious violations at the Missoula site include failing to train new workers on how to prevent exposure to hepatitis B, guard the belts and pulleys of a commercial dryer, and cover the opening of an electrical junction box. The citations carry $14,300 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.
The repeat violations are failing to make vaccinations for hepatitis B available and provide training to employees on hazardous chemicals. The citations carry $44,000 in 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 violations were cited at the company's Pueblo, Colo., facility in 2007 and its Laurel, Mont., facility in January.
"Employers must protect workers who are occupationally exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials," said Jeff Funke, director of OSHA's Billings Area Office. "This employer placed workers' health at risk by not offering them required bloodborne pathogens training."
Healthcare Services Group has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Billings Area Office or contest the citations and penalties 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 Billings office at 406-247-7494.
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.
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.