Occupational Health & Safety

Calif. Veterans Affairs Health Care Facilities Hit with 30 Safety Violations

OSHA issued notices for serious violations involving blocked emergency exit doors and routes, multiple electrical hazards, a lack of proper machine guarding, and exposure to contaminated needles.

OSHA has issued 30 notices of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions for violations found during inspections of four U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities. OSHA began the inspections in November 2011 at the VA hospital in Mather and at outpatient clinics in Martinez, Fairfield, and Oakland. All are part of the VA's Northern California Health Care System.

"The safety hazards identified at these four clinics demonstrate a need for a renewed commitment by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a safe workplace for the VA employees who care for our nation's wounded and aging soldiers," said David Shiraishi, director of OSHA's Oakland Area Office.

OSHA issued notices for 25 serious violations involving blocked emergency exit doors and routes, multiple electrical hazards, a lack of proper machine guarding, and exposure to contaminated needles.

A notice also has been issued for a repeat violation involving the improper storage of biological hazardous waste. A notice for a similar violation at the Mather hospital was issued in 2007.

OSHA also has issued notices for four other-than-serious violations involving an incomplete written hazard communication program and failing to identify exit doors.

Under Executive Order 12196, federal agencies must comply with the same safety and health standards as private sector employers covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The federal agency equivalent to a private sector citation is the Notice of Unsafe or Unhealthful Working Conditions.

OSHA cannot propose monetary penalties against another federal agency for failure to comply with OSHA standards.

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