A California hospital has been fined for the second time in 2012 because of unsafe working conditions. Some of the violations OSHA found could result in a high probability that workers could suffer a work injury. Two citations against the hospital resulted in fines totaling over $25,000.
The Atascadero State Hospital treats potentially dangerous patients who are either mentally ill or violent offenders accused of crimes. Employees at the hospital were exposed to the possibility of a work injury due to patient assaults before, during and after the OSHA inspection. This finding resulted in the significant fines issued.
The hospital also allegedly failed to follow state safety codes because it did not implement corrective measures designed to protect employees from violence. It also accused of failing to use the buddy system, implementing effective alarm systems and ensuring properly trained staff was present on all shifts. Investigators uncovered evidence showing that approximately 10 staff injuries per month occurred in a span of about nine months. The hospital has the right to appeal OSHA's decision, but there has been no word on whether this will occur. However, this is not the first time this hospital has been cited for their work conditions.
When a California employee suffers a work injury, they are typically eligible for workers' compensation. When a company fails to properly protect its workers from unsafe working conditions, it can result in serious injury or even death. Workers in a situation like this have legal rights, and they may take comfort in knowing that help is available to them to claim and receive the benefits they are entitled to under state law.
Source: The Tribune, "Atascadero State Hospital fined for unsafe working conditions," Tonya Strickland, Nov. 30, 2012