Massachusetts medical firm risked workplace injury, says OSHA

A Massachusetts medical services provider from Newton has run afoul of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. New England Hematology/Oncology Associates PC has been the subject of an investigation that was commenced last April, after employees complained to OSHA that the employer was subjecting employees to a biohazard. Specifically, the employees were concerned about the potential for a workplace injury due to the company's failure to use needles in treating cancer patients that were engineered for safety.

Apparently, before the employees brought their complaint to OSHA, they addressed safety concerns with the employer. The employer reportedly initially agreed to take action. However, the same needles continued in use and placed the employees at risk of needlestick injuries from "blood-borne pathogens."

OSHA recently assessed fines against the employer totaling nearly $47,000. Some $42,000 of that amount was attributable to a willful violation. A willful violation is said to occur when the cited condition created a substantial likelihood of a serious injury or death and the employer was aware of it or should have been.

The Massachusetts company now has 15 days to comply with the OSHA findings, request a meeting with OSHA or appeal the citations. A workplace injury is serious under any circumstances, but exposing employees to the risk of serious injury or worse obviously warrants enforcement action. There were no reports of any injuries sustained, though employees would likely be covered by worker's compensation benefits to pay for their medical bills and any missed time from work. Hopefully, the OSHA action will forestall any threat of a tragic incident and pave the way for new safety procedures going forward.

Source: Wicked Local Newton, "Newton medical provider issued $46,900 citation for workplace violations," Oct. 31, 2012