Intensive OSHA inspection produces citations, fines

Hospital takes positive approach to audit

A wall-to-wall, comprehensive Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection resulted in 41 alleged health and safety violations and $91,500 in fines for New Britain (CT) General Hospital.

The inspection stemmed from a local emphasis program in OSHA’s Region One, which targeted hospitals with more than eight lost workday injuries per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. The average lost workday rate for hospitals is four lost workday injuries per 100 FTE.

"It’s one of the priorities of the agency," according to Thomas Guilmartin, OSHA area director, who is based in Hartford. "There are targeted industries, and health care is one of them."

In a statement, the hospital said the inspection had spanned several weeks and had involved an "intensive review of every hospital area" as a part of a regional initiative. "New Britain General Hospital is supportive of this OSHA initiative as it prospectively identifies potential areas for improvement," the hospital said.

"The hospital takes these allegations very seriously, and hospital representatives will be in consultation with OSHA to review these alleged violations and discuss each issue. The hospital is committed to a safe work environment and to correcting any concerns," it added.

Guilmartin lauded the hospital’s cooperative spirit. "They took it on as a very comprehensive audit that was going to identify problems they needed to fix."

The safety inspection resulted in 20 citations for alleged serious violations and two for other-than-serious violations. They included:

  • wet floors in a machine room;
  • inadequate training of employees;
  • pulleys and vertical or inclined belts that were not enclosed;
  • confined space hazards and machine-guarding infractions.

The health inspection produced 17 alleged serious violations and two other-than-serious violations. They included:

  • improper handling of blood-contaminated laundry;
  • overfilled sharps containers;
  • inadequate training on chemical health hazards;
  • failure to require eye gear (such as goggles and face shields) to protect against splashes or splatters of blood or body fluids;
  • inadequate labeling of potentially hazardous agents.

The hospital disputed some of the allegations and was negotiating with OSHA officials on the fine and the citations.