On March 6, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began an inspection of Quest Diagnostic Corp.’s Ameripath laboratory in Shelton, CT. The inspection followed numerous complaints from lab employees who claimed to be suffering from headaches, sore throats, and breathing problems.
Following the inspection, OSHA identified multiple violations of its required safety standards. With regard to laboratory safety, OSHA requires employers to implement various safeguards for the protection of their employees, including complete chemical hygiene plans. The OSHA inspection discovered that Quest’s Shelton lab neglected to:
- Provide an opportunity for employees who displayed symptoms of chemical exposure to receive a medical check-up.
- Educate lab employees on the signs of exposure to hazardous chemicals, including formaldehyde, alcohols, and acetic acid.
- Provide proper training on detection of hazardous chemicals.
- Perform an assessment to determine necessary personal protective gear and equipment for employee use.
- Train employees on the specifics of the chemical hygiene plan and inform them of its location.
- Implement the chemical hygiene plan.
- Ensure that the chemical hygiene plan included directions and procedures for safely separating and removing hazardous chemical waste.
In a recent statement, Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport said, “A laboratory chemical hygiene plan is not a paper exercise. It’s a continuous ongoing process that is key to preventing employees from being sickened by the hazardous chemicals with which they work. Our inspection found several serious deficiencies concerning the Shelton laboratory. For the safety and health of its employees, Quest must ensure that correct and effective safeguards are in place and in use at all its laboratories.”
In addition to the above violations, Quest’s Shelton lab also failed to prevent on-site construction workers from coming into contact with hazardous chemicals, post a list of work-related illnesses and injuries, and remove covers from carbon monoxide detectors and sprinkler heads.
Quest’s Shelton, CT Office Fined $152,435
In response to this extensive list of problems, Quest Diagnostics received 15 serious violations and two other than serious violations. As a result, OSHA has proposed penalties in the amount of $152,435. Within 15 business days from receipt of these citations, Quest must comply, meet with the area director, or challenge OSHA’s findings before the agency’s Health Review Commission.
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