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Region 1 News Release: BOS 2000-128
Wednesday, September 13, 2000
Contact: John M. Chavez
PHONE: (617) 565-2075
OSHA CITES SOUTH WINDSOR, CONN., COMPANY FOR ALLEGED WORKPLACE SAFETY & HEALTH VIOLATIONS; PROPOSES OVER $87,000 IN PENALTIES
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited Healthcare Services Group (HCSG) of South Windsor, Connecticut, for alleged WILLFUL, REPEAT and SERIOUS violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and has proposed penalties totaling $87,400 for those alleged violations.
According to Thomas Guilmartin, OSHA area director for northern Connecticut in Hartford, HCSG is a service company providing housekeeping, laundry and general labor services, mostly to nursing homes, throughout the country. The company, which employs approximately 13,000 workers nationwide, has ten employees on site at the Roncalli South Windsor nursing home where OSHA conducted an inspection between March 24 and September 5, 2000.
"The most serious deficiencies we found," said Guilmartin, "have to do with the exposure of employees to blood borne pathogens without having the proper safeguards in place. Workers providing laundry and cleaning services in nursing homes are often exposed to blood and other bodily fluids, so employers of such workers should be well aware of the precautions which must be taken to limit such exposure."
Guilmartin noted that the HCSG corporate office, with nationwide operations, has produced a comprehensive blood borne pathogens exposure control plan for implementation by its affiliates across the country. "Unfortunately," he said, "in the case of the HCSG staff at the Roncalli South Windsor nursing home, the practical execution of this exposure control plan was sadly lacking."
Specifically, HCSG is being cited for the following alleged safety and health violations:
One alleged WILLFUL violation, including a proposed penalty of $55,000, for failing to provide employees with the hepatitis B vaccination within 10 days of an employee assuming their duties, and failing to have employees declining the hepatitis B vaccination sign a declination form.
Four alleged REPEAT violations, carrying proposed penalties totaling $25,400, for: failing to maintain a schedule and method of implementation in the exposure control plan, failing to have a sharps container located in the laundry, failing to have the names and qualifications of trainers for blood borne pathogens on records of training, and failing to maintain employee training records for three years.
Three alleged SERIOUS violations, including proposed penalties totaling $7,000, for: a blocked exit in the laundry, use of a pedestal fan in the laundry not listed or labeled for industrial use, and for failing to transport blood and bodily fluid contaminated laundry in a labeled bag or for not ensuring that employees in the laundry used universal precautions in the handling of all laundry.
Guilmartin noted that a willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations, while a repeat violation is defined as one where, upon re-inspection, a substantially similar violation is found. A serious violation is defined as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
Guilmartin urged Connecticut employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Hartford or Bridgeport. He added that OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617)565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.
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