ENFORCEMENT

OSHA Fines Address Bloodborne Pathogen and Violence Hazards

Case: OSHA fined a Pennsylvania mental health hospital $32,158 for a trio of safety violations, including failing to protect nurses, medical technicians and other employees against workplace violence risks. One violation violation included failure to provide personal protective equipment to help protect workers against violence such as patients biting, scratching and hitting. Other violations related to bloodborne pathogen risks, including failure to seek input from non-managerial workers who were exposed to bloodborne pathogens in developing an exposure control program and failure to provide adequate annual training on bloodborne pathogens.

[BHC Northwest Psychiatric Hospital LLC, dba Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital, News Release, OSHA (Reg. 3)].

Significance: Although workplace violence risks within health care facilities are all too real, OSHA fines remain relatively rare. But three things worked against the hospital in this case, including the fact that:

  • An employee actually complained to OSHA, triggering the inspection;
  • Mental health and psychiatric hospitals are regarded as high risk settings for workplace violence; and
  • Above all, the hospital had experienced a number of previous incidents in which employees suffered serious injuries after being bitten, punched, scratched, grabbed or hit with objects hurled by patients.

(For help managing workplace violence hazards at your lab, see GCA, Oct. 28, 2016, and for further discussion of bloodborne pathogens, see GCA, Oct. 10, 2016)

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