hospitalA Conn. health care facility needlessly exposed its employees to tuberculosis by failing to take appropriate protective action after a patient was identified with the illness, OSHA has found.

Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford has been cited for three alleged serious violations of workplace health standards involving inadequate safeguards for employees exposed to tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. OSHA's Hartford Area Office opened an inspection in February after receiving a complaint that employees had been exposed to a patient with tuberculosis. Proposed fines total $17,600.

The violations include the center's failure to have a system in place that promptly identifies, masks and isolates patients with suspected tuberculosis; and its failure to provide workers who had face-to-face contact with suspected or confirmed tuberculosis patients with training on the disease and a respiratory protection program. In addition, the center lacked a hazard communication program and hazardous chemical training.

"Employees were needlessly exposed to a potentially contagious infection due to the lack of basic protective measures that should have been in place," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's acting area director in Hartford. "An effective infectious control program would have established procedures and provided training and protective equipment to workers to minimize their exposure to tuberculosis and other infectious diseases."

Detailed information on protecting workers against tuberculosis is available online at

Charter Oak Health Center Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.