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Schenectady blood lab fined over worker training

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
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— A blood lab company faces $58,000 in proposed fines for employee training violations at its Schenectady location, federal officials announced Tuesday.

Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings, headquartered in North Carolina, was cited for what the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration deemed “repeat and serious health violations” concerning employee training on how to handle blood samples.

Federal investigators found that phlebotomy technicians, the workers who drew blood, did not receive required training until after already working with the blood. Workers at the Schenectady office also were not trained on procedures in the event of an exposure incident.

OSHA did not give the address of the Schenectady office, but Laboratory Corp. of America’s Web site lists a lab at 1336 Union St. Representatives of the company could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The citations came as violations of OSHA’s bloodborne pathogen standard, which requires employers to provide workers with regular training, including steps to take in the aftermath of exposure, and to provide training to workers before they work with blood, according to OSHA.

The same company was cited for similar violations at its Jersey City, N.J., location, making the Schenectady findings a repeat offense, according to OSHA. With the repeat status comes $38,500 in proposed fines.

In addition, the specific violations found at the Schenectady location resulted in $19,500 in proposed fines, with the company cited for failing to have specific procedures to inform workers on obtaining post-exposure care; update the exposure control program to reflect technological changes to eliminate or reduce bloodborne pathogen exposures; and train workers exposed to a chemical used in stabilizing and shipping blood samples.

Each of those violations was deemed “serious,” meaning OSHA found a “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known,” according to OSHA.

“The failure of Laboratory Corp. to provide adequate and timely training needlessly placed workers at risk,” Kimberly Castillon, OSHA area director in Albany, said in a statement. “The health and wellness of the Laboratory Corp. workers depends on this company promptly and effectively addressing these issues at all its locations.”

Laboratory Corp. now has 15 business days to comply, meet informally with OSHA officials or contest the findings.

 
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