OSHA: McGuire VA Medical Center employees exposed to workplace violence

OSHA: McGuire VA Medical Center employees exposed to workplace violence

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued notices to the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center for exposing workers to an unsafe workplace.

OSHA says they identified "four willful, two serious, and eight other-than-serious safety violations" in a 20 page report labeling unsafe or unhealthful working conditions.

Some of the violations include failure to provide safety and health training for supervisory employees. OSHA says the agency head, did not furnish a place of employment, that was free from recognized hazards that caused or were likely to cause death or serious physical harm. The report says the agency did not record each work related fatality, injury or illness case as required by OSHA. The particular violation goes on to list numerous times when nurses and employees suffered injuries while working with patients but it says they were not recorded.

Another violation talks about needle stick injuries and cuts from sharp objects that were contaminated with another person's blood, or other potentially infectious material but were not recorded on OHSA's log. OSHA's investigation started May 6, 2015, which was around the same time fired pharmacist and whistleblower Dr. Andrew Carmichael allegedly made similar complaints about patient safety, including a dirty IV room allegedly afflicted with patient safety problems and allegations of poor record keeping and wasting medical supplies.

"The safety hazards identified at this facility demonstrate a need for a renewed commitment by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a safe workplace for the VA employees who care for our nation's  service members, veterans, their families and survivors," said Stanley J. Dutko Jr., OSHA's area director in Norfolk. "All employers, including federal employers, are responsible for evaluating and determining the extent to which employees may be exposed to physical assault or other forms of workplace violence and taking the appropriate actions to eliminate or minimize that exposure. Every employer is responsible for ensuring their workplaces are safe and healthy for all employees."

This is the sixth inspection for the McGuire VA Medical Center since 1992 - four of those inspections resulted in notices. In 2009, the facility received notices for record keeping deficiencies.

The employer has 15 business days from receipt of the notices to comply or request an informal conference with OSHA's area director.

This is the third time in recent months that OSHA has issued notices related to workplace violence to a Veterans Affairs medical facility. Both the El Paso VA Health Care System and the Atlanta VA Medical Center were cited earlier this year for exposing employees to workplace violence and other hazards.

Nationwide, within the past five years, OSHA says 16 inspections of VA facilities resulted in notices issued for record keeping deficiencies. Three of those were classified as repeat.

Copyright 2015 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.