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Region 2 News Release: 11-468-NEW/BOS 2011-126
April 7, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department's OSHA cites The Renaissance Project in Ellenville,
NY, for inadequate workplace violence safeguards following worker's death
Treatment facility also cited for record-keeping and bloodborne hazards
ALBANY, N.Y. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited The Renaissance Project Inc. in Ellenville for failing to provide its employees with adequate safeguards against workplace violence as well as other alleged hazards. OSHA initiated an investigation in October 2010 following the death of one employee and the wounding of another, allegedly committed by a client at the addiction treatment facility.
OSHA's investigation found that the employer had not developed or implemented adequate measures to protect its staff from physical assaults nor had it provided training to staff to advise them on how to respond in the event of an actual or threatened physical assault.
As a result, OSHA has cited the facility with a serious violation of the agency's general duty clause for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious injury. 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.
"This citation points to the clear and pressing need for The Renaissance Project and similar facilities to develop a comprehensive program that will proactively address workplace violence situations that imperil the safety and health of their workers," said Edward Jerome, OSHA's area director in Albany.
This serious citation includes a number of suggested means of abatement that the facility can pursue to address the workplace violence issue. These include:
- Conduct an annual, site-specific workplace violence hazard analysis to identify hazards, conditions, operations and situations that could lead to violence, and address and correct any identified deficiencies.
- Evaluate the staff communication log to identify clients that exhibit violent behavior and incorporate measures that reduce the likelihood of clients committing violence in the workplace.
- Develop and train employees in an emergency communication program.
- Develop and implement engineering and administrative controls to reduce workplace violence hazards.
- Ensure that a sufficient security presence and/or personnel are on facility floors at all times.
- Establish open communication between security and other employees to help identify problematic clients and situations that could result in an incident.
- Train security personnel in crisis intervention, and workplace violence prevention policies and programs.
OSHA also has issued four additional serious citations to The Renaissance Project for the lack of a written exposure control plan and training for employees with occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens; failing to offer the Hepatitis B vaccine to such employees; and for not having a written hazard communication program.
Additionally, the facility has been issued two other-than-serious citations for not maintaining illness and injury logs for 2010, and not notifying OSHA of the worker fatality within eight hours. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm. The Renaissance Project faces a total of $28,000 in proposed fines.
The Renaissance Project has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Albany Area Office; telephone 518-464-4338.
OSHA's "Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care & Social Service Workers" is available online at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3148/osha3148.html. Additional information on workplace violence is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/index.html.
To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
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, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
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