Ohio ambulance attendants exposed to bloodborne pathogens
People tasked with saving lives found their own lives endangered by infectious disease because their employer failed to protect them, according to OSHA.
Agency inspectors determined that employees of Lifefleet, a North Lima, Ohio medical transport company, were exposed to blood and other bodily fluids which can cause serious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.
OSHA cited Lifefleet on July 31 for four willful, seven serious and three other-than-serious health violations after a complaint prompted a February 2015 inspection. Proposed penalties total $235,800.
The company was cited for:
- Failing to clean, launder or dispose of personal protective equipment and clothing at no cost to employees.
- Not ensuring medical evaluations and procedures, including blood tests, were made available quickly to employees after an exposure.
- Not providing employees with the results of postexposure evaluation tests.
- Failing to train workers on health hazards and precautions to prevent exposure.
Inspectors also found the company exposed workers to slip and fall hazards from standing water in the ambulance bay and obstructed exit routes,
“Workers risking exposure to bloodborne pathogens must have clean clothing, personal protective equipment and be medically evaluated when an exposure occurs,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland. “Failing to protect workers from pathogens that can cause life-threatening diseases is unacceptable. As a medical service provider, Lifefleet should be setting the standard in employee protection - not ignoring it.”
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.