The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Angelica Textile Services, an industrial laundry in Rockmart, Georgia and proposed $50,000 in penalties for allegedly exposing employees to serious health and safety hazards at the company’s Marquette Road laundry facility.
OSHA’s investigation, launched Feb. 12, 2004, found that employees who sorted and washed soiled laundry from healthcare facilities were not informed of the hazards associated with their jobs, had not received safety training in a language they understood, and were not provided with personal protective equipment.
“Employers have an obligation to maintain a safe and healthy workplace,” Andre Richards, OSHA’s Atlanta-West area director, commented.
The agency cited the company for eight alleged serious health violations, with proposed penalties of $31,500, including failure to clean and decontaminate the area where employees sorted soiled laundry; exposing them to bloodborne pathogens; and not providing easily accessible containers for hazardous medical devices, such as needles.
The company was also cited for four alleged serious safety violations in the washing area, with proposed penalties of $18,500. Citations were issued for failure to develop and implement a lockout-tagout program that would render the large industrial washing machines inoperable while employees dislodged linens; and for failure to develop and implement a confined space program, which requires monitoring the air in the washing machines before workers enter. Both programs require that employees receive safety training, warning signs be posted near the equipment, and procedures be in place for first aid and emergency rescue services.
The company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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