: Calcualting OSHA fines
by Dan Scungio • August 07, 2019
Last month I discussed what a typical OSHA inspection could look like should one occur in your facility. You know how to handle the inspector, but how do you prevent a finding and therefore a fine? What types of violations would OSHA fine in a specimen collection area? What is a typical fine from OSHA and how can it be calculated?
Each fine from OSHA for a workplace violation starts at $13,653 per day (updated 2/2021). If there are multiple violations, and if the violations last for several days, that monetary amount will add up quickly. If the violation is considered willful (on purpose), the fine amount is multiplied by four.
Let's look at some examples. If a phlebotomist throws a needle assembly out into a trash can rather than into a sharps container, that would be one incident resulting in a fine of $13,653. Now multiply that by four if the employer can prove that training occurred. The phlebotomist knew that needles should go into a sharps container, so that is now a willful violation. The fine has become $136,532 (updated 2/2021).
If a phlebotomist disposes of a needle and fails to activate the safety device, that is considered a willful violation. Needle safety devices must be activated as soon as possible after a blood collection. That is clearly for both the phlebotomist's and the patient's safety, but not doing so can incur a $54,612 fine each time it happens.
Can you think of other possible OSHA violations in a phlebotomy area? What about not using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves? Some phlebotomists also process specimens. Lab coats and face protection should also be worn. Do you have chemicals in your area? You need to consider chemical hygiene standards such as proper labeling and training.
As I stated last month, just be calm when an OSHA inspector arrives and starts to look around. However, you also have to remember to follow the rules, especially when it comes to safety. That's the best way to keep yourself from harm and to keep your employer from receiving huge fines!
You can contact Dan Scungio, Dan the Lab Safety Man at [email protected].
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