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New England Heath Center Exposes Workers to Tuberculosis

Charter Oak Health Center Inc. was recently cited by officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for violating workplace health standards in New England. The company was issued three violations totaling nearly $18,000 in proposed fines. The citations followed an inspection back in February which was the result of a complaint. The complaint alleged that workers were being exposed to a patient who had tuberculosis and the company’s management team didn’t take the appropriate actions to protect workers.
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The health center didn’t have a system set up that should have identified, masked and isolated patients who were suspected of tuberculosis. The employees who were working in close quarters with this patient were also not properly trained on the details of the disease and how to use a proper respiratory protection program. Additionally, the company didn’t have any kind of hazard communication program and workers were not trained on how to deal with hazardous chemicals. These were all cited as serious violations, meaning that the hazards could have cause serious injuries, illnesses and even death and the employer should have already recognized these dangers.

Our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys understand that healthcare workers accounted for nearly 7 percent of workplace injuries and illnesses in 2010. These workers are exposed, on a daily basis, to dangerous chemicals, to debilitating diseases and to other work hazards. The truth of the matter is that healthcare is the fastest-growing sector of the country’s economy. There are currently nearly 20 million people employees in this industry. Woman account for about 80 percent of these workers.

Common healthcare work hazards:

-Stress
-Violence
-Latex Allergy
-Back Injuries
-Needlestick Injuries
Even though it’s possible to help to prevent and even reduce accidents in this field, far too many healthcare workers continue to experience unnecessary injuries and illnesses on the job. Cases of nonfatal occupational injury and illness among to healthcare workers are among the highest of any industry sector, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“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 area director.

Occupational hazards faced by healthcare personnel (HCP) in the United States have received increasing attention. Although recommendations, guidelines, and regulations to minimize HCP exposure to such hazards have been developed, additional information is needed to improve HCP safety.

An effective control program, dealing with infections, would have been able to lay out specific procedures to follow in the event of a patient with tuberculosis. A comprehensive program would have also provided workers with the proper safety equipment and with the proper training to deal with these scenarios and help to reduce their risks of exposure.

If you feel like your work place is not taking the proper safety precautions to keep you safe and injury-free, you’re urged to speak up. Your concern and you recommendations can help to reduce injuries and save lives.

If you have been injured on the job, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. Call 1-877-617-5333.

More Blog Entries:

Workplace Violence a Threat in Massachusetts – Employers Beware, Massachusetts Workers compensation Lawyers Blog, August 4, 2012

Unemployment Rate Putting those with Jobs at Risk of Work Accident, Massachusetts Workers compensation Lawyers Blog, July 28, 2012