A judge has upheld OSHA fines issued to a uniform laundry service for violations involving bloodborne pathogen and lead exposure. The judge says the company also routinely falsified safety training sign-in sheets.
The three willful violations ($165,000) were for failure to:
- conduct proper training for employees who were exposed to bloodborne pathogens
- provide hepatitis B vaccinations to employees, and
- have engineering and work practice controls in place to eliminate or minimize exposure to bloodborne pathogens.
The four serious violations ($21,000) were for:
- a locked emergency door
- lack of training on fire extinguisher use
- lead-contaminated surfaces, and
- lack of gloves worn when employees might have had hand contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials.
UniFirst contested the violations and fines.
But an administrative law judge of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) upheld all the violations and associated fines, and also found UniFirst’s management intentionally falsified training sign-in sheets, required employees to sign training sign-in sheets without receiving training, forged employee signatures, and allowed training to be conducted by managers who weren’t competent in the subject areas they taught.
OSHA said drivers and loading-dock workers at UniFirst were exposed to bloodborne pathogen and lead hazards at the New Jersey facility. These workers picked up and sorted dirty lab coats and other laundry from customers who regularly drew and/or tested blood. Some of the laundry had also been contaminated with lead. Lead was also found on work surfaces at UniFirst’s facility.
“UniFirst’s plain indifference to OSHA’s requirements compromised the safety and health of its workers,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.
The company has 20 days from the date the judge’s decision is docketed with OSHRC to appeal the ruling.