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Violations of toxic exposure standards leads to OSHA citations

Employees in the health care industry in Iowa -- including dentistry -- are exposed to dangerous bloodborne pathogens on a daily basis. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict regulations related to any toxic exposure and workers have a right to be protected. After a complaint was filed with OSHA that alleged violations of exposure standards, the agency launched an inspection at a dental practice in a neighboring state.

Reportedly, the complaint related to an employee suffering a sharps injury -- meaning a puncture wound caused by a sharp medical instrument or needle. Investigators determined that the employer failed to teach employees about the hazards of bloodborne pathogens and the necessary precautions to take to avoid exposure. Workers were apparently not even required to wear protective equipment such as gloves. Furthermore, the dental practice had no established control plan to prevent exposure, nor did it have a hazard communication program in place.

Inspectors also found that employees who were exposed to hazardous pathogens or other toxic materials were not medically evaluated. Also, no follow-up procedures were in place for instances of exposure. The company also disregarded the OSHA requirement to provide employees with the hepatitis B vaccination series.

An OSHA area director pointed out that exposure to bloodborne pathogens threatens both employees and patients and said such disregard is unforgivable. Workers in health care facilities in Iowa who suffer the consequences of any toxic exposure may file benefits claims with the workers' compensation insurance program to assist them with medical expenses and lost wages. Wage replacement typically forms part of the compensation package if workers' injuries cause absence from work.

Source: nwherald.com, "OSHA cites Lakemoor Dental with employee safety violations", July 5, 2016

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