By Patti Singer
Anthony L. Jordan Health Center was fined $13,000 by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and has until June 6 to document corrections.
The penalties were issued March 22 and were released May 13 in a statement by 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Upstate New York Division. The union also released the informal settlement agreement between OSHA and Jordan.
The agreement listed four violations labeled “serious” and related to exposure by dental staff to potentially infectious material. A fifth violation was labeled “other than serious” and related to Jordan’s alleged failure to keep a log of recordable occupational injuries and illnesses.
“At no time were patients or employees in danger,” said Jason Dunn, chief operating officer of the health center.
Bruce Popper, 1199 SEIU vice president, said Jordan failed to follow federal guidelines for training staff in handling potentially blood-borne pathogens.
“These are serious,” Popper said. “This is not some little administrative matter. … This is a matter of properly training and protecting their employees.”
Dunn said that in October, OSHA received an anonymous complaint that the temperature in the dental area was too hot, that there wasn’t a plan for infection control and that Jordan didn’t supply personal protective equipment for staff exposed to potentially infectious material.
OSHA inspected Jordan Health, 82 Holland St., from Oct. 24 through March 19, according to the informal settlement agreement.
Dunn said Jordan Health demonstrated to OSHA staff that the temperature could be adjusted within minutes of a call to maintenance and that personal protective equipment was available. The temperature issue was not included in the informal settlement agreement.
Dunn said Jordan Health acknowledged that its infectious control policy needed to list the job titles that it covers. He also said that the health center was late on its continuing education for employees. He said the delay was caused by a change to an electronic system for the annual refresher.
OSHA initially levied a $20,839 fine. Dunn said the amount was reduced after Jordan Health showed it had an infection control plan and it admitted being late on its annual employee education program.
Dunn, who has been with Jordan since 2010, said this is the first OSHA issue in that time and he has not heard of any previous violations.
In September, Jordan Health declared an impasse in contract negotiations with 1199 SEIU after the Jordan board declined to accept and offer by the federal mediator.
Dunn said that as of Jan. 1, Jordan Health implemented a 4 percent pay increase for covered employees and will be implementing other provisions of an agreement approved by its board.
Popper said Jordan Health retroactively declared the impasse. He said the OSHA action generated with employees that had complaints. “We were notified by OSHA of the complaint. Our staff and delegates participated in the exit interview.”
This story has been updated.