The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations to a Maryland-based U.S. Postal Service station, doing business as Brooklyn South Carrier Annex, for a variety of health and safety violations, including employee bloodborne pathogen exposure. Among the citations processed to the postal service, were, one serious, two willful, and three repeat violations. The OSHA-proposed penalty for these violations was, $342,059.
An investigation was prompted, in response to a complaint filed with the agency, which alleged that there was employee exposure to various hazardous materials, including blood and potentially infectious bodily fluids, in an incident where packages, labeled as containing biological infectious materials, were being handled. As a result of this complaint, OSHA began a formal inspection of the Brooklyn, Maryland facility on May 24, 2016.
The investigation yielded several violations, including:
- Failure to draft or implement a bloodborne pathogen exposure control-plan
- Failure to perform an exposure determination
- Failure to offer exposed employees a Hepatitis-B vaccine
- Failure to draft or implement a hazard-communication plan
- Failure to adequately train employees in bloodborne pathogen handling/protection-protocol
- Failure to provide employees with properly-sized gloves
OSHA Baltimore Area Office director, Nadira Janack, said, “Exposure to bloodborne pathogen hazards can result in serious or life-threatening illnesses. To reduce or eliminate these hazards at USPS’s Brooklyn facility, an exposure control plan must be implemented, to protect employees and provide a safe and healthy workplace.
The handling of hazardous material is among the most complicated in its protocol and, for good reason. Many of the inherent dangers in the handling of biological materials are potentially fatal or life-long in their scope of symptoms. For this reason, it is absolutely necessary that those safety leaders who work in environments where hazardous materials are stored and handled make every effort to apprise themselves of any resource available, in an effort to maintain compliance.