Rick Rice (LA)
SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) today issued 12 citations to the Riverside County Office of the Coroner for 29 violations of California workplace safety and health regulations. The citations resulted from an inspection which began on February 22, 1994, following an incident at Riverside General Hospital in which a number of employees collapsed, reportedly from exposure to mysterious vapors.
Two citations were for willful violations of regulations governing employee exposure to excessive levels of formaldehyde, a potential cancer hazard.
The Coroner's Office also received nine citations for serious violations regarding employee exposure to bloodborne pathogens; for failure to train employees in respirator usage or maintenance; for failure to ensure that respirators were fit-tested; for employee exposure to excessive amounts of airborne formaldehyde; for failure to identify or monitor employees who had been exposed to unacceptable levels of formaldehyde; for failure to establish a regulated area where airborne formaldehyde exceeds permissible exposure levels; and for failure to provide a drench shower or adequate emergency eyewash in areas where it is possible for employees to become splashed with formaldehyde solutions.
Eighteen other non-serious violations were also cited. In addition, the Coroner's Office received an information memorandum outlining procedures to be followed to preclude asbestos exposure to employees.
Although monetary penalties could have exceeded $190,000 if these violations had been cited against a private employer, none were assessed in this case because the Labor Code does not permit Cal/OSHA to levy civil penalties against public agencies.
The Coroner's Office has the right to appeal these citations to the California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board in Sacramento within 15 working days.