Mass. psych hospital ignores workplace violence hazards, citations
A Massachusetts behavioral health facility faces $207,690 in proposed penalties from OSHA for violations found while conducting a follow-up inspection.
On June 29, 2017, OSHA issued UHS of Westwood Pembroke, Inc. – doing business as Lowell Treatment Center – a notification for failure to abate violation involving workplace violence. This follows a serious violation related to the same hazards that federal safety and health inspectors found on May 19, 2015. As a result of the 2015 inspection, the employer and OSHA entered into a Formal Settlement Agreement on April 12, 2016, which outlined specific provisions of a workplace violence prevention program.
No changes after employee injuries
OSHA opened a follow-up inspection on Jan. 5, 2017, after Lowell Treatment Center failed to provide documentation to show that it had implemented a workplace violence program, and the agency's Andover Area Office received a complaint alleging employees remained at risk. OSHA found the center had failed to comply with multiple terms of its agreement, and that – despite previous citations and worker injuries – the risks for workers to suffer fatal injury or serious harm still existed. OSHA also cited the company for one repeat violation and three other-than-serious violations related to recordkeeping.
"Our inspectors found that employees throughout the Lowell Treatment Center continued to be exposed to incidents of workplace violence that could have been greatly reduced had the employer fully implemented the settlement agreement," said Galen Blanton, OSHA's regional administrator in Boston.
Company plans to contest the findings
UHS of Westwood Pembroke, Inc., is one of the nation's largest health-care management companies. Through its subsidiaries, UHS operates 350 behavioral health facilities, acute care hospitals, ambulatory centers, and freestanding emergency departments throughout the U.S., the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With approximately 130 workers, the Lowell Treatment Center is a 41-bed satellite facility of Westwood Lodge. The center is a psychiatric hospital that offers inpatient hospitalization and partial hospitalization for adolescents and adults.
UHS of Westwood Pembroke has notified OSHA of its intent to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.