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Region 2 News Release: 11-936-NEW/BOS 2011-230
June 28, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074
Email: fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Interfaith Medical Center in
Brooklyn, NY, for safety and health hazards; $48,000 in fines proposed

NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Interfaith Medical Center, 1545 Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn, for 14 violations of workplace health and safety standards following an OSHA inspection. The hospital faces a total $48,000 in proposed fines.

"OSHA standards require that employees whose duties bring them in contact or close proximity to asbestos or potential asbestos-containing material be informed and trained about the hazards and safeguards associated with that material," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. "That knowledge is vital since ongoing exposure to asbestos can result in asbestosis, mesothelioma and cancer of the lung."

OSHA's inspection found that the hospital failed to provide adequate asbestos training for environmental staff and employees in the engineering department who perform demolition and renovation. Nor did it inform outside contractors of the presence of potentially asbestos-containing material in and around their work area. It also failed to properly label asbestos-containing insulation and floor tile, and allowed disposal of asbestos-containing material in the hospital dumpster. Additionally, the hospital failed to train trade employees on the hazards; provide them with material data safety sheets; and develop a written hazard communication program for cleaners, lubricants, acetylene, naptha and other hazardous chemicals. Furthermore, the inspection found improper storage of compressed gas cylinders and electric shock hazards from exposed and improperly spliced wiring. These conditions resulted in the issuance of citations for 10 serious violations with $44,000 in proposed fines. Four other-than-serious violations with $4,000 in fines were cited for incomplete OSHA 300 illness and injury logs for 2007 through 2010.

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. 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.

Detailed information on asbestos hazards and safeguards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/index.html, while information on chemical hazard communication is available at http://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html.

"One means of addressing hazards such as these is by establishing and maintaining an illness and injury prevention program in which employers and employees work jointly to identify and eliminate hazards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

Interfaith Medical Center has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Manhattan Area Office; telephone 212-620-3200. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency'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.

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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, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


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