NORTH LIMA, Ohio – Emergency ambulance workers must concern themselves first with the needs of the people who depend on them. Employees working at a North Lima medical transport company also had to worry about the dangers of infection and disease because their employer failed to protect them.
U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found that Lifefleet LLC did not properly protect employees who transport patients from exposure to blood and other bodily fluids. Exposure may lead to serious diseases, such as hepatitis or human immunodeficiency.
OSHA cited Lifefleet on July 31 for four willful, seven serious and three other-than-serious health violations after a complaint prompted a February 2015 inspection. Proposed penalties total $235,800,
“Workers risking exposure to bloodborne pathogens must have clean clothing, personal protective equipment and be medically evaluated when an exposure occurs,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’s area director in Cleveland. “Failing to protect workers from pathogens that can cause life-threatening diseases is unacceptable. As a medical service provider, Lifefleet should be setting the standard in employee protection – not ignoring it.”
Inspectors found Lifefleet did not protect workers from bloodborne pathogens by:
- Failing to clean, launder or dispose of personal protective equipment and clothing at no cost to employees.
- Not ensuring medical evaluations and procedures, including blood tests, were made available quickly to employees after an exposure.
- Not providing employees with the results of postexposure evaluation tests.
- Failing to train workers on health hazards and precautions to prevent exposure.
OSHA determined that Lifefleet did not require employees to use gloves and facemasks when contacting infectious materials. The company failed to train workers about hazardous workplace chemicals, and did not review and update the exposure control plan annually. It also failed to establish and maintain a sharps injury log,
Inspectors also found the company exposed workers to slip and fall hazards from standing water in the ambulance bay and obstructed exit routes.