Regulatory flu bug bites hospital

By: February 19th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

A Spokane hospital was cited for not protecting its workers from H1N1 influenza by the Washington State version of OSHA. The state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) issued $8,000 in fines to Sacred Heart Medical Center, according to a February 18 news release from the Washington State Nurses Association.

During the height of the H1N1 flu pandemic in October, the nurses association filed a complaint against the hospital charging that the infection control policy regarding the use of N95 respirators in treating suspected or diagnosed H1N1 patients was endangering staff members. Nurses were having difficulty obtaining respirators and fit testing, according to the news release.

After investigating, the DOSH cited the hospital for eight for violations on January 29. Specific violations included:

  • Inadequate written respiratory protection program
  • Not all employees who wear N95 respirators have been fit tested or trained on an annual basis
  • No provision for men with facial hair, which can interfere with the respirator seal of N95 respirators

Washington State requires employers to protect workers from H1N1 exposure in accordance CDC guidelines and has adopted an enforcement procedure similar to that of federal OSHA, according to the DOSH H1N1 influenza Web page.


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