A dentist is being sued for violating worker’s rights in Boston, being accused of firing one of his employees for voicing concerns about needlestick hazards after filing a health complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Workers have the right to perform their jobs without being exposed to life-threatening hazards as well as the right to raise concerns when faced with such hazards,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA’s New England regional administrator.
Our Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys understand that doctors, hospitals and medical facilities have an obligation to protect employees from dangerous hazards, including blood borne contamination. The Labor Department helps to enforce federal standards to help ensure that employees are provided with the proper protection on the job.
The lawsuit that the Department of Labor has filed against the Boston dentist seeks lost wages, interest, benefits and compensatory and punitive damages. Lastly, the lawsuit seeks to prevent the dentist from every putting his employees in danger of violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act in the future.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 500,000 workers exposed to bloodborne pathogens through sharps injuries ever year. It is also estimated that there are about 1,000 percutaneous injuries every day. Technicians, physicians, nurses and housekeeping staff members are particularly at risk for sharps injuries. Researchers estimate that it is likely that for every 100 occupied hospital beds, nearly 30 of these injuries happen.
Sharps injuries can result in the transmission more than 20 pathogens, including:
-Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
-Hepatitis C (HCV)
-Hepatitis B (HBV)
The CDC estimates victims of these contaminants cost about $3,000 for the proper testing, counseling and post-exposure prophylaxis.
Costs and incidents may be much higher than expected as the Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System predicts that anywhere from 22 percent to 99 percent of sharps injuries are never reported.
To help reduce the risks of bloodborne pathogens, OSHA suggests:
- Establish an exposure control plan to minimize of eliminate occupational exposure.
- Update the plan regularly to reflect changes in procedures, positions that affect these exposures, tasks and technological exposures.
- Use signs and labels to communicate hazards.
- Keep proper worker training and medical records.
- Keep hepatitis B vaccinations on hand for all employees.
- Provide workers with personal protective equipment (PPE), including gowns, gloves, masks and eye protection.
- Provide the proper training and information to all employees.
- Examine work procedures to ensure that they are done in a way that suggests the least risk to workers. If a simpler and safer way can be implemented, do so.
The Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System requires that all sharps injuries be reported. The system understands that many employees may not report the injuries for a few reasons:
- They may not think that they are at a high risk
- They may fear the disease they may have gotten
- They wish to avoid the paperwork and procedures following an exposure
- They may fear that they could put their job at risk
But while these are all understandable concerns, they shouldn’t come between a workplace injury and filing a claim. Without filing a timely workers’ compensation claim, the worker may lose their rights and regret it forever.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a sharps accident in Boston or in any of the surrounding areas, contact Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Filing for workers compensation can be a long and confusing process, but an experienced attorney to help ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. Call (617) 777-7777.
More Blog Entries:
OSHA Fines Companies for Safety Issues With Hair Products in Massachusetts, Nation, Massachusetts Workers Compensation Lawyer Blog, October 6, 2011
Manufacturer Fined $175,500 for Failing to Prevent Work Accident in Massachusetts, Massachusetts Workers Compensation Lawyer Blog, October 2, 2011