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California workplace injuries: Medical center fined by Cal-OSHA

A medical center in Oakland has been fined by the California division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. According to Cal-OSHA the probability of the staff suffering workplace injuries due to improper equipment and training is high. The medical center disagrees and has indicated that it will protest the findings.

 

The incident that led to the investigation of Oakland's Alta Bates Summit Medical Center surrounded approximately 24 patients that could have been infected with tuberculosis. As an aside, none of the patients in question tested positive for tuberculosis. Of the multiple citations issued to the medical center, two of them were identified as "willful and serious."  The medical center is facing fines in the amount of $142,970.

The allegations are that the patients potentially infected with tuberculosis were not properly quarantined in specially ventilated rooms in order to ensure the virus would not spread throughout the hospital. An employee stated that it was known by the hospital for more than a year that the "negative pressure room" in the ICU was not working properly and was inadequate. A negative pressure room is one where the air is sucked out of the room by a special ventilation system to keep whatever is in the air out of the rest of the hospital.

 

Another citation was written for the fact that staff members were not routinely required to wear a respirator when dealing with patients believed to have been in contact with someone with an infectious disease. The hospital says it is reviewing its policies and procedures to keep people safe and prevent workplace injuries. All California employers are required to ensure a safe work environment for its employees, no matter what risks may come with the job. Anyone injured on the job has the right to apply for any and all workers' compensation benefits available to that employee.

 

Source: San Jose Mercury News, "Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland fined $142,970 for safety violations," Sandy Kleffman, May 21, 2013

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