OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA PROPOSES $137,250 PENALTY AGAINST AEPCO, INC. OF OSCEOLA, ARK.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited AEPCo in Osceola, Ark., with proposed penalties of $137,250 for alleged safety and health violations resulting from a complaint inspection, announced the U.S. Department of Labor.
AEPCo, whose controlling corporate office Commodore Medical Services of Tennessee is located in Nashville, employs about six employees at its warehouse facility at 100 Industrial Road in Osceola.
Employees pick up medical waste from hospitals, medical clinics, research facilities, funeral homes and veterinary clinics then transport the waste to the company's warehouse utilizing an adjacent city-owned incinerator.
According to Paul J. Hansen, Jr., OSHA's Little Rock area director, the alleged violations were discovered during a complaint inspection conducted between Aug. 4, 1999 and Jan. 21, 2000. OSHA investigators determined that the company failed to protect employees from potentially fatal bloodborne pathogens. Bloodborne pathogens can be contracted through contact with blood or other potentially infectious human tissues.
OSHA's bloodborne pathogen standard requires that employees be protected from potential disease by a comprehensive program that includes safe work practices, personal protective equipment, training, and medical care following an exposure.
The company was cited for 15 serious violations, three willful violations, and five other than serious violations.
A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result. The 15 serious violations consisted of the following:
- Failure to provide adequate toilet facilities
- Failure to provide suitable emergency eyewash/shower facilities
- Failure to properly store material to prevent sliding or collapse of the material
- Failure to adequately guard belts and pulleys
- Failure to properly ground electrical equipment
- Failure to adequately guard openings in electrical boxes
- Failure to provide covers for electrical junction boxes
- Failure provide adequate hand washing facilities for employees exposed tobiohazardous waste.
- Failure to prohibit employees from ingesting food and drink in areas where there was likelihood of exposure to biohazardous wastes
- Failure to provide personal protective equipment and ensure its use
- Failure to ensure the worksite was maintained in a clean or sanitary condition
- Failure to ensure that the health care professional evaluating employees after exposure to biohazardous wastes was provided with appropriate information and records
- Failure to adequately monitor and train employee exposed to formaldehyde
- Failure to develop, implement, and maintain an adequate written hazard communication program
A willful violation exists under the OSH Act where the evidence shows either an intentional violation of the OSH Act or plain indifference to its requirements. The three willful violations consisted of the following:
- Failure to ensure regulated biohazardous waste was placed in proper containers for handling, transport, shipping or storage
- Failure make Hepatitis B vaccination available to employees
- Failure to ensure that employees with occupational exposure participated in a training program
The five other-than-serious violations consisted of the following:
- Failure to provide adequate information to employees wearing respirators
- Failure to institute a continuing and effective vermin extermination program
- Failure to implement and maintain an adequate written exposure control plan
- Failure to ensure regulated waste was placed in appropriately labeled containers
- Failure to provide employee with a copy of the evaluating health care professional's written opinion
Hansen stated that it is "incumbent upon employers to develop, implement and maintain safety and health programs that will provide protection to employees from the hazards that may be present in their workplace." Employers or workers who have questions concrning safety and health may contact the Little Rock Area Office at (501) 324-6291. They may also take advantage of the free consultation services offered by the Arkansas Department of Labor Consultation Service at (501) 682-4520.
AEPCo has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply with the citations, request an informal conference with the area director or contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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