Thursday, August 14, 2003

Nursing Home Fined For Unsafe Needles

"Safety is a Priority"

To OSHA's credit (and it's hard to find much to give them these days), they have issued an appropriate $102,000 "willful" violation to Beaver Valley Nursing & Rehabilitation Home in Beaver Falls, PA where
Managers required workers to use banned needles, exposing them to increased health risks from blood-borne diseases
According to OSHA,
A willful violation exists under the Act where the evidence shows either an intentional
violation of the Act or plain indifference to its requirements.

The employer committed an intentional and knowing violation if:

An employer representative was aware of the requirements of the Act, or the existence of an applicable standard or regulation, and was also aware of a condition or practice in violation of those requirements, and did not abate the hazard.
In this case
Even after acknowledging in internal safety meetings that the needles broke OSHA regulations, managers continued to require workers to use the banned needles, the agency said.

That represented "willful violation" of regulations requiring safer, protective needles, and resulted in a $70,000 fine, said OSHA spokeswoman Leny Uddyback-Forston.

"There were times employees would bring this up (that) they should be using safe devices and these safe devices were not used," said Edward Selker, assistant director of OSHA's Pittsburgh area office.
Unsafe needles weren't the only problem:
OSHA also cited the home for rejecting a union representative's request to view safety records.

"They told us they could not provide us with the information and that we were not entitled to that information," said Kevin White, organizer for Service Employees International Union District 1199P, which represents about 100 workers.

Health care facilities have been required since 1999 to use syringes with guards and sheaths, safeguards designed to prevent workers from "needle sticks" that could transmit such blood-borne diseases as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.

Other violations included improper training, inadequate medical counsel to workers after needle sticks and failure to replace overfilled needle disposal bins.
In its defense, facility administrator John Papasodero said in a faxed statement that safety is "a priority" at the Beaver Valley nursing home.

And I'm sure there are signs on the wall that prove it.