OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued willful citations to the U. S. Justice Department, Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) for two immigration detention facilities in Houston, announced the U.S. Department of Labor.
The alleged violations were discovered during an investigation of two INS detention facilities at 15850 Export Drive and 126 Northpoint Drive in Houston. An employee complained that employees were being exposed to active tuberculosis from individuals brought into the INS facilities.
Thousands of undocumented individuals are processed through the INS detention facilities and stay an average of 48 to 72 hours. INS employees come into close contact with the individuals during apprehension, pat downs, transportation and interrogation. During transportation of the individuals, INS employees are enclosed in the confined space of the vehicle without personal protective equipment such as respirators or masks. Additionally, at the INS facilities, INS employees must stay with the individuals in 10'X10' rooms again without personal protective equipment.
OSHA found that since 1996, INS employees, at the above mentioned facilities, have not been provided with personal protective equipment or received training on the hazards associated with tuberculosis.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has categorized this type of work as high hazard for exposure to tuberculosis.INS has been aware of the hazards of exposing employees to tuberculosis and other airborne viral agents from other OSHA investigations.
A willful violation is defined as a violation in which the employer knew that a hazardous condition existed but made no reasonable effort to eliminate it; and in which the hazardous condition violated a standard, regulation or the OSH Act. The willful violations for each facility are as follows:
1.The employer failed to furnish employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees - 29CFR1960.8(a).
2.The employer did not establish and implement a written respiratory protection program with worksite specific procedures where respirators are necessary to protect the health of employees - 29CFR1910.139(a)(2).
3.The employer did not provide annual training for employees with occupational exposure to bloodborne materials, within one year of their previous training - 29CFR1910.1030(g)(2)(VI).
The other-than-serious violations for each facility are as follows:
1.A log of all recordable occupational injuries and illnesses was not maintained at each establishment - 29CFR1960.67.
2.A supplemental record for each occupational injury and illness was not available for inspection at the establishment with 6 working days after receiving after receiving that a recordable case had occurred.
Federal agencies are not assessed penalties by OSHA. The private sector equivalent total penalty would be $390,000.00 for the two federal facilities.
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