OSHA Issues Notice to McDowell Federal Prison

The notice comes after workers there were exposed to bloodborne pathogens, according to the agency.

OSHA announced it has issued a notice to the Federal Correctional Institution at McDowell, Welch, W.Va., facility of the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons. The notice concerns bloodborne pathogens exposures and other alleged workplace safety and health hazards that were discovered in a January 2014 investigation by OSHA. Investigators found that correctional officers and other staff at the medium-security federal prison were exposed.

The notice is the equivalent of an OSHA citation given to a private-sector firm. OSHA cannot impose monetary penalties on a federal agency, however, even though federal agencies are required to comply with the same safety and health standards as private-sector firms are.

"Federal prison employees are often exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials," said Prentice Cline, director of OSHA's Charleston Area Office. "It is imperative that employers take every reasonable precaution to protect these workers against these types of safety and health hazards."

According to OSHA's release, 10 serious violations were identified, including failure to: train employees on the bloodborne pathogens policy and limitations of personal protective equipment; ensure the person conducting training was knowledgeable about the subject; use puncture-resistant containers to transport contaminated shanks and other sharps; provide health care professionals, who evaluate an employee following an exposure, a copy of the bloodborne pathogens regulation, the exposed employee's duties, documentation of the route of exposure or its circumstances, and medical records relevant to treatment of the employee; and select and require the use of puncture-resistant gloves while conducting pat-down operations.

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