Recently, the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) of the United States Department of Labor issued a news release indicating that the Administration had fined a Pennsylvania hospital $32,000 for exposing employees to workplace violence and other hazards. These findings were a result of the agency’s inspection, conducted over the course of more than one year. OSHA had received a complaint that made clear employees had been exposed to workplace violence and did not have clear access to restrooms.
Under the General Duty Clause, OSHA cited the Psychiatric Hospital for violations. This clause indicates that every employer must provide a workplace free of recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or injuries. Additionally, the Clause requires that employers comply with occupational safety and health standards and rules, according to the OSH Act of 1970.
Specifically, the investigation of the psychiatric hospital by OSHA found that the hospital had a number of incidents in which violence had been committed by patients against employees. In some cases, the employees were bit, scratched, or punched, and in other situations, they were struck with objects, often leading to serious injuries. According to the citations, nurses and mental health technicians who provided inpatient care were exposed to serious physical injuries.
OSHA directed the employer to provide a clear written description of how to report these incidents and to explain that employees would not experience retaliation for reporting incidents of violence. The employer had also been cited for failing to provide employees with personal protective equipment, such as protective arm guards.
Additionally, the employer was cited for failing to provide nurses with reasonable access to restroom facilities or making them wait over 15 minutes to use the restroom. OSHA determined the employer also failed to provide annual training and had deficiencies concerning blood-borne pathogen training (the use of needles to provide injectable medicine).
The director of OSHA’s Allentown Office was quoted as stating that the hospital had taken a “lax” approach to workplace safety. In order for the employees to work safely, the director made clear that the hospital would have to take immediate action and put in place effective measures to protect employees.
The hospital faces proposed penalties of $32,158, and it has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations and penalties to comply or request a conference with the OSHA area director.
The skilled attorneys at Needle Law Firm help people suffering from workplace injuries seek the benefits to which they are legally entitled. Workplace safety is a priority, and as personal injury lawyers, we have helped injured individuals understand their rights and obligations under Pennsylvania law. We are familiar with OSHA standards and workplace safety regulations, and we provide personal, efficient service to all of our clients. To schedule your no-obligation, complimentary consultation with a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney, call our office at (570) 344-1266 or use our online form.
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Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation and Hazards of Construction Work; Pennsylvania Contractor Fined Thousands in Proposed Penalties, Pennsylvania Accident Lawyer Blog,February 9, 2017
Presenting a Strong Case for Workers’ Compensation Under Pennsylvania Law, Pennsylvania Accident Lawyer Blog, June 29, 2016