Maryland Postal Facility Fined for Bloodborne Pathogen Hazards

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By Kathy Lundy Springuel

Dec. 1 — Failure to establish a written exposure control plan for employees handling packages with biological infectious materials was one of six violations cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in proposing a $342,059 penalty for the U.S. Postal Service’s Brooklyn, Md., South Carrier Annex.

An inspection in May found that employees were required to handle packages leaking blood and/or bodily fluid or clean up blood pools or bodily fluids from the floor, according to the citation issued Nov. 22 and announced in a Dec. 1 news release.

Inspectors found that the annex had employees with occupational exposures but failed to prepare an exposure determination and failed to offer exposed employees the Hepatitis B vaccine.

Additionally, USPS failed to implement a hazard communication program and neither trained workers properly for bloodborne pathogen protection nor provided properly sized gloves, inspectors found.

The observed infractions resulted in citations for one serious, two willful and three repeat health violations.

“Exposure to bloodborne pathogen hazards can result in serious or life-threatening illnesses,” Nadira Janack, director at OSHA’s Baltimore Area Office, said in the news release.

“To reduce or eliminate these hazards at USPS’s Brooklyn facility, an exposure control plan must be implemented to protect employees and provide a safe and healthy workplace,“ said Janack.

USPS corporate communications spokesman Tom Ouellette told Bloomberg BNA in a Dec. 1 e-mail that, “Safety and safe work practices are of paramount importance to the Postal Service.”

Noting that the citations “were received at the local postal facility just yesterday,” he said “we will review OSHA’s concerns and where necessary, make adjustments to ensure a safe working environment for our employees.”

USPS has 15 days to comply with the abatements requested, seek a conference or contest the findings.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kathy Lundy Springuel in Annapolis, Md., at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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