Following inspections of four U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health facilities in Northern California, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations for 30 alleged violations of health and safety standards.
The investigations centered on a VA hospital in Mather, CA, and also included clinics in Fairfield, Martinez and Oakland. OSHA highlighted 25 "serious" violations, including numerous electricity hazards, blocked or unmarked emergency exits and the lack of machinery safeguards. The facilities also failed to properly maintain and properly dispose contaminated needles. A "serious" violation, according to OSHA standards, is a one wherein there is a heightened risk of serious injury or death resulting from a preventable hazard.
The safety agency also cited the VA facilities for one repeat violation involving the failure to properly store hazardous materials, a follow-up from a notice issued in 2007. OSHA regulations define a repeat violation as one that mirrors a citation about a similar hazard issued within the past five years.
"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 OSHA's area director for Oakland, David Shiraishi, said in a statement.
Federal organizations are mandated by law to comply with the same health codes and standards as private firms and businesses. In order to avoid similar infractions for occupational hazards, companies should prioritize the procurement of protective clothing like safety glasses and eye protection to make sure that workers stay safe.
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