Archive for: OSHA – Citations & Fines

Alta Bates Summit ordered to pay $84,450

By: July 12th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Cal/OSHA has imposed an $84,450 fine on Alta Bates Summit Medical Center for failure to warn and protect a hospital worker and an Oakland police officer exposed to an emergency room patient with meningitis, according to the San Jose Mercury News, July 2.

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Weekly poll: OSHA fines vs. environmental fines

By: June 25th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

One of the recommendations that the American Industrial Hygiene Association made to OSHA was to increase fines to put them more in line with other regulatory agencies, and cites state and federal environmental violations as examples.  Do you believe that OSHA fines are too lenient, especially when compared to fines imposed by environmental regulatory agencies? Take the OSHA Healthcare Advisor Weekly Poll and let us know.

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AIHA advice for OSHA includes stiffening fines

By: June 22nd, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has released a white paper which highlights the emerging roles and issues facing OSHA.

“Perspective on the Role of OSHA in Advancing Occupational Safety and Health for the Nation” makes 17 recommendations addressing OSHAs current approach and opportunities for improved effectiveness in key areas enumerated in the agency’s strategic plan and the 2011–2016 strategic plan, including f the Department of Labor (DOL), including the modification of OSHA penalties.

AIHA calls the current maximum penalty structure—$70,000 per violation for willful or repeat violations, $7,000 per day for failure to abate hazards, and $7,000 per violation for other violations—”woefully inadequate” compared to fines from other regulatory agencies. For example, employer fines for breaking environmental laws can be as high as $25,000 a day.  Also, OSHA’s maximum criminal penalty for a willful violation leading to the death of a worker is six months compared to 15 years in jail for the serious violation of environmental laws.

“AIHA supports amending OSHA criminal penalties so that they are at least as stringent as penalties for violations of environmental laws.” according to the white paper.

Other recommendations include:

  • Having primary authority for all safety and health issues in workplaces that the agency regulates
  • Reforming the standard-setting process
  • Applying standards to all workers, including municipal, state and federal
  • Promoting occupational safety and health programs for small and medium-sized employers
  • The continuation of the general duty clause to enforce employer responsibility to provide safe and healthful working conditions.
  • Updating the Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs)

Vital stats: Passing an OSHA NEP inspection

By: June 4th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

OSHA’s recently announced a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for nursing and residential care facilities will focus on exposure to blood and OPIM; exposure to other communicable diseases such as TB; exposure to hazardous chemicals and drugs; ergonomic stressors related to lifting patients; workplace violence; and slips, trips, and falls. OSHA Healthcare Advisor asked its readers, regardless of facility type, how confident they were that their healthcare facility would be citation-free if an OSHA NEP inspection occurred right now.

Here are the results.

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OSHA hits four Veterans Administration clinics with safety notices

By: May 25th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

OSHA issued 30 notices of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions to four U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities in California. The facilities involved are the VA hospital in Mather and at outpatient clinics in Martinez, Fairfield and Oakland, and all are part of the VA’s Northern California Health Care System, according to a May 24 agency news release.

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Weekly poll: Surviving an OSHA inspection, right now

By: April 9th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

OSHA’s recently announced National Emphasis Program  (NEP) for nursing and residential care facilities will focus on exposure to blood and other potentially infectious material; exposure to other communicable diseases such as tuberculosis; exposure to hazardous chemicals and drugs; ergonomic stressors related to lifting patients; workplace violence; slips, trips and falls.

Regardless of your facility type, how confident are you that your healthcare facility would be citation-free if an OSHA NEP inspection occurred right now? Take the OSHA Healthcare Advisor Weekly Poll and let us know.

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Ask the expert: OSHA bloodborne pathogens fines for hospitals

By: February 24th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: In a hospital what is the most frequent OSHA bloodborne pathogens citation and fine?

A: Last year the most common OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard citation issued to hospitals was for not providing employee training at the appropriate time or at no cost, section 1910.1030 (G)(2), according to a report appearing in the October 2011 Briefings on Infection Control.

The average initial fine for that violation was $132.

Not using engineering and work practice controls to eliminate or minimize  employee exposure, section 1910.1030 (D)(2), $508, and not having have a written exposure control plan, section 1910.1030 (C)(1), $2,353, were the next most frequent citations.

 

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Click here for the advice from the OSHA Healthcare Advisor.

Ask the expert: Most common OSHA fine for medical practices

By: February 10th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: In a medical practice what is the most frequent OSHA citation and fine?

A: Last year the most common OSHA citation issued to medical practices was for not having or updating the written exposure control plan, section 1910.1030 (C) (1) of the Bloodborne Pathogens standard, according to a report appearing in the September 2011 Medical Environment Update.

The average initial fine for that violation was $980.

The same was true for dental practices where the average initial fine for that violation was $1,008.

Get into compliance with HCPro’s Basic OSHA Compliance Manual Kits for medical or dental practices. Receive bimonthly electronic manual updates through your newsletter subscription that keep your regulatory manual up to date and in compliance!

TB screening, OSHA, and applicable chapter and verse

By: January 19th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Steve MacArthur, safety consultant for The Greeley Company, is taking on all comers lately, especially  OSHA compliance. And as Father Lonergan from The Quiet Man would say: “What do you expect?”

Last week MacArthur tackled emergency eyewash stations with the seductive headline: “In your eyes – the light, the heat … the chemicals?” This week: The intricacies of TB screening for contract staff and OSHA compliance.

Here is the post, courtesy of Mac’s Safety Space:

From the muddy banks of compliance

Let’s break from form a little bit and start with a question:

How often are you (and by you, I mean your organization) screening contracted staff, including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, etc.?

A recent TJC survey resulted in a finding under the HR standards because the process was being administered on a biannual cycle. The finding vaguely referenced OSHA guidelines in identifying this deficiency, but the specific regulatory reference point was not provided (though apparently a call to Chicago validated that this was the case). Now, anyone who’s worked with me in real time knows that I have an exhaustive (and, at times, exhausting) curiosity about such matters. The deficiency “concepts” are usually sourced back to a “they;” as in, “they told me I had to do this” “they told me I had to that.” I am always, always, always curious as to who this “they” might be and whether “they” were good enough to provide the applicable chapter and verse. The answer, more often than not, is “no.” Perhaps someday we’ll discuss the whimsical nature of the” Authority Having Jurisdiction” (AHJ) concept, but we’ll save that for another day.

At any rate, I did a little bit of digging around to try and locate a regulatory source on this and in this instance, the source exists; however, the standard is not quite as mandatory as one might first presume (If you’re thinking that this is going to somehow wrap around another risk assessment conversation, you are not far from wrong). So, a wee bit of history:

Back in 1994, the CDC issued their Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Health-Care Facilities, (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/rr/rr5417.pdf) which, among other things, advises a risk-based approach to screening (Appendix C speaks to the screening requirements for all healthcare workers, regardless of who they work for. The guidance would be to include contract folks. The risk level is determined via a risk assessment (Appendix B of the Guidelines is a good start for that). So, for a medium exposure risk environment, CDC recommends annual screening, but for a low exposure risk environment, they recommend screening at time of hire, with no further screening required (unless your exposure risk increases, which should be part of the annual infection control risk assessment).

But, in 1996, OSHA issued a directive that indicates annual screening as the minimum requirement , even for low-risk exposure risks, and even while referencing the CDC guidance: (http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=DIRECTIVES&p_id=1586) with medium risk folks having semi-annual screening and high-risk folks being screened on a quarterly basis. So, friends, how are you managing folks in your environment, particularly the aforementioned contracted staff? Do you own them or is it the responsibility of their contracted employer? Does this stuff give you a headache when you think about it too much? It sure gives me one…occupational hazard, I guess. At any rate, it’s certainly worth checking to see whether a risk assessment for TB exposure has been conducted. The OSHA guidance document clearly indicates that if you haven’t, it’s the responsibility of the surveyor to conduct one for you, and I don’t know that I’d be really keen on having that happen.

I especially liked the they references. Do you encounter the vague but seemingly ominpotent and omniscient they reference? If so, or for other observations, post a comment below.

Ask the expert: Who does OSHA fine for not using safety needles, the worker or employer

By: December 30th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: If an employee refuses to use available safety devices, such as safety needles and sharps, who would pay the fine if an OSHA inspector cites such a situation? The employee or the employer?

A: The employer is responsible and bears the burden of any citations or fines. OSHA only has the power to fine the employer, not the employee.

OSHA would expect the employer to modify the safety education program and training to achieve compliance among staff. Documented progressive disciplinary actions could mitigate the issuance of a citation or the severity of a fine.

Last year the average initial OSHA fine to medical practices for not providing or ensuring the use of safety devices was $1,306, according to Medical Environment Update.

Get into compliance with HCPro’s Basic OSHA Compliance Manual Kits for medical or dental practices. Receive bimonthly electronic manual updates through your newsletter subscription that keep your regulatory manual up to date and in compliance!

Safety officer tip: Small practices hardest hit by bloodborne pathogens fines

By: November 29th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

A reader liked my post on OSHA citations of small medical practices, but thought that an analysis of the dollar amount of bloodborne pathogens fines would better ensure compliance by hitting practice owners in the pocketbook.

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Safety officer tip: Small practices not immune to OSHA citations

By: November 21st, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

Do you hear the excuse from management that your practice is too small to worry about OSHA compliance? Or do you believe that practice size gives you immunity from citations? If you do, you’re wrong—look at the numbers.

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