Brooklyn Medical Center Cited for Asbestos Hazards

OSHA's inspection found that the hospital failed to provide adequate asbestos training for environmental staff and employees in the engineering department who perform demolition and renovation.

OSHA has cited Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn for 14 violations of workplace health and safety standards following an OSHA inspection. The hospital faces a total $48,000 in proposed fines.

"OSHA standards require that employees whose duties bring them in contact or close proximity to asbestos or potential asbestos-containing material be informed and trained about the hazards and safeguards associated with that material," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. "That knowledge is vital since ongoing exposure to asbestos can result in asbestosis, mesothelioma, and cancer of the lung."

OSHA's inspection found that the hospital failed to provide adequate asbestos training for environmental staff and employees in the engineering department who perform demolition and renovation. Nor did it inform outside contractors of the presence of potentially asbestos-containing material in and around their work area. It also failed to properly label asbestos-containing insulation and floor tile, and allowed disposal of asbestos-containing material in the hospital dumpster. Additionally, the hospital failed to train trade employees on the hazards; provide them with material data safety sheets; and develop a written hazard communication program for cleaners, lubricants, acetylene, naptha, and other hazardous chemicals. Furthermore, the inspection found improper storage of compressed gas cylinders and electric shock hazards from exposed and improperly spliced wiring. These conditions resulted in the issuance of citations for 10 serious violations with $44,000 in proposed fines. Four other-than-serious violations with $4,000 in fines were cited for incomplete OSHA 300 illness and injury logs for 2007 through 2010.

"One means of addressing hazards such as these is by establishing and maintaining an illness and injury prevention program in which employers and employees work jointly to identify and eliminate hazards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

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