OSHA Citations Upheld for Employee Safety Issues
An administrative law judge recently issued a ruling that upheld findings that drivers and loading-dock employees of a New Jersey industrial laundry depot facility were exposed to potential hazards related to bloodborne pathogens and lead. The judge affirmed in the Sept. 30 ruling the citations and penalties based on a 2011 inspection by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) staff at the facility.
The OSHA news release detailed the charges against the industrial launderer, noting that the agency cited the company on charges of violating the bloodborne pathogens standard. The violations included failing to conduct proper training and providing Hepatitis B vaccinations to drivers and plant personnel, the release said. “These workers picked up and sorted dirty lab coats and other laundry from customers who regularly drew and/or tested blood,” the release said. “The workers were exposed to lab coats and laundry potentially contaminated with blood or improperly disposed of contaminated needles or syringes mixed in with the laundry. The company also was cited for exposing workers to lead hazards because employees were picking up laundry that had been contaminated with lead. Lead was subsequently found on work surfaces in the facility.”
The judge determined that the majority of the employees at the depot neither received the Hepatitis B vaccine, nor signed the form declining the vaccine. The company also was cited for not complying with OSHA standards requiring the use of biohazard bags, the judge found. The industrial launderer was charged in 2012 with a total of seven citations, including proposed fines of $186,000, according to a news report.
Clearly, any textile services company that’s processing healthcare garments or linens must fully understand and comply with OSHA standards regarding bloodborne pathogens or other hazards related to healthcare services. TRSA has several educational materials available to provide information on this topic. Examples include:
- Precautions for Protection: Handling Soiled Healthcare Linen DVD – a training resource available in both English and Spanish.
- Healthcare Services Operations Manual – a TRSA publication that offers a broad base of information on healthcare processing issues, procedures and requirements.
- Healthcare Laundering: A Compendium of Articles for Textile Services Operators – this booklet includes an array of articles from Textile Services magazine on issues including best practices for processing healthcare textiles in compliance with OSHA requirements for handling items soiled with bloodborne pathogens.
- Managing OSHA Inspections – an educational DVD that can help operators ensure that that they are in continuing compliance with agency requirements.
- OSHA Inspection, Effectively Handling: How to Legally Protect Your Rights (Webinar) – former OSHA Administrator and Legal Counselor Ed Foulke advises on how to conduct a pre-inspection of your facility and correct any errors before an OSHA compliance officer ever sets foot on your site, and helps devise a step-by-step strategy for handling an OSHA inspection and the aftermath.
- Bloodborne Pathogens – How the OSHA Standard Applies to a Healthcare Laundry (Webinar) – Andrea Bessel, health and safety director for Clarus Healthcare Linen Services, provides practical insight into the most frequently cited OSHA violation – the agency’s bloodborne pathogens standard – and addresses increased OSHA scrutiny of precautions to minimize occupational exposure to potentially infectious materials, including emphasis on written exposure control plans, hazard assessment, personal protective equipment (PPE), employee training programs, hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine and sharps injury logs.
Operators with additional concerns or questions about this topic may contact TRSA President & CEO Joseph Ricci at email@example.com or call 703.519.0029, ext. 101.