Safety and OSHA News

Worker complaint leads to $342K in OSHA fines for bloodborne pathogen hazards

Employees at this facility faced exposure to blood and other potentially infectious bodily fluids. 

Now OSHA has fined the U.S. Postal Service $342,059 for two willful, one serious and three repeat violations at its Brooklyn, MD, annex.

OSHA inspected the facility following an employee complaint alleging exposure to bodily fluids while handling packages labeled as containing biological materials.

According to OSHA, USPS didn’t:

  • establish a written Exposure Control Plan where employees are required to handle packages leaking blood or bodily fluids, or clean up fluid spills on the floor
  • prepare an exposure determination to include employees required to handle packages that contained bodily fluids or clean up spills
  • make Hepatitis B vaccinations available to these employees
  • develop, implement or maintain a written hazard communication program for employees who were exposed to chemicals including toilet bowl cleaner, bleach, disinfectant cleaner and drain opener
  • maintain copies of required safety data sheets for the chemicals
  • provide training on hazardous chemicals at the time of their initial assignment and whenever a new hazard that the employees had not been previously trained about was introduced into their work area
  • ensure appropriate PPE in appropriate sizes was accessible (employees with exposure to bloodborne pathogens received gloves that were either too large or too small, or they didn’t have access to gloves as needed)
  • review the emergency action plan with each employee in case of a fire
  • provide suitable facilities for quick flushing of the eyes or body where employees were exposed to injurious corrosive materials, and
  • ensure each employee exposed to bloodborne pathogens participated in a training program.

(Some violations were grouped together because they involve similar or related hazards.)

“Exposure to bloodborne pathogen hazards can result in serious or life-threatening illnesses. To reduce or eliminate these hazards … an exposure control plan must be implemented,” said Nadira Janack, director of OSHA’s Baltimore Area Office.

The USPS has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA or appeal to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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