Occupational Health & Safety

OSHA Issues 19 Notices of Unsafe Working Conditions to Veterans Health Care Facility

"All employers, including federal employers, are responsible for knowing what hazards exist in their facilities and must take appropriate precautions by following OSHA standards so workers are not exposed to such risks," said Mark Hysell, director of OSHA's Eau Claire Area Office in Wisconsin.

OSHA has issued 19 notices of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions found at the St. Cloud Veterans Affairs Health Care System facility in St. Cloud, Minn., following a combined health and safety inspection conducted in July as part of OSHA's Federal Agency Targeting Inspection Program.

"The St. Cloud Veterans Affairs Health Care System failed to properly ensure the facility was in compliance with established safety and health procedures," said Mark Hysell, director of OSHA's Eau Claire Area Office in Wisconsin. "All employers, including federal employers, are responsible for knowing what hazards exist in their facilities and must take appropriate precautions by following OSHA standards so workers are not exposed to such risks."

Eight repeat safety violations involve failing to provide guardrails on open-sided platforms, keep exit routes free and unobstructed, evaluate the workplace to determine if permit-required confined spaces were present, implement and train workers in lockout procedures to control hazardous energy, provide training on specific powered industrial trucks, and provide workers with the necessary personal protective equipment for exposure to electrical shock and arc flash hazards.

Additionally, two repeat health violations involve failing to include the type or brand of sharps that were the cause of employees' exposure to blood or bodily fluids in the sharps log, and failing to train housekeeping staff on the specific location of asbestos in their assigned work areas. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in Minneapolis, Chicago, and Dayton, Ohio, previously have been cited for the same safety and health violations.

Six serious safety violations involve failing to provide personal protective equipment during chain saw use; provide mats where wet processes were used; develop, document, and implement safe permit space entry operations for hydraulic elevator pits; verify machines were de-energized prior to performing maintenance; use eye protection when required; and use lockout devices to control energy sources.

Three other-than-serious violations involve failing to place a warning sign at the entrance of a mechanical room containing energized electrical parts, have a written schedule for cleaning and decontamination for surfaces routinely contaminated with blood, and conduct an initial exposure assessment of vinyl tile removal activities.

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