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OSHA investigates workplace injuries in health care facility

Health care workers are exposed to multiple safety hazards on a daily basis. While some of the dangers may be unanticipated, there are known hazards that require specific precautions to avoid workplace injuries. In response to a complaint, federal authorities recently inspected one of the facilities of a California hospital group.

Needlestick injuries can have devastating consequences, and the California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation focused its inspection on this hazard. Used syringe needles must be discarded in a deposit box specifically designated for that purpose. While such a container was used at this hospital, it was not cleaned frequently. Investigators found it overflowing with dangerous needles, so much so that the lid could not be closed.

Workers were ordered to clean the deposit box by using a dustpan and broom. However, because this method was not effective, workers often removed the needles by reaching into the box. OSHA says one worker suffered a needlestick injury in 2013, and two additional incidents were reported this year. Following the citations and the penalty issued by OSHA after this inspection, additional, bigger deposit boxes were reportedly installed; they will be cleared out every 30 minutes.

California health care workers who have suffered workplace injuries may require costly medical care and may be unable to return to work for some time. Victims may pursue benefit claims through the workers' compensation insurance system to help with medical expenses and lost wages. Compensation awards are typically based on the severity of the injuries, whether there will be long-term medical costs and the income levels of the victims.

Source: Suisun City, Ca. Patch, "Kaiser Fined Nearly $150K for Poor Upkeep of Needle Deposit Box", Alexander Nguyen, Dec. 3, 2015

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