OSHA Cites Lab for ‘Serious’ Bloodborne Pathogen Violations

LOS ANGELES—Underscoring the seriousness with which Washington takes its role in assuring that employers comply with federal bloodborne pathogen laws, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a national laboratory testing service “for alleged repeat and serious health violations” of OSHA bloodborne pathogen standards.

Following a November 2012 inspection of Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings’ Schenectady, N.Y. location, reported workerscompensation.com, “OSHA found that phlebotomy technicians who drew blood did not receive required training until after working with the blood. In addition, workers were not trained on procedures in the event of an exposure incident. OSHA's bloodborne pathogen standard requires employers to provide workers with regular training, which includes steps to take in the aftermath of an exposure, and to provide the training before workers begin working with blood.”

According to a local OSHA director, “The failure of Laboratory Corp. to provide adequate and timely training needlessly placed workers at risk. The health and wellness of the Laboratory Corp. workers depends on this company promptly and effectively addressing these issues at all its locations."

The news, though hardly earth-shattering, highlights comments made yesterday by industry attorney Michael Fattorosi regarding the nationwide implications of the campaign by AIDS Healthcare Foundation and other mandatory barrier protection advocates to enshrine California Code of Regulation section 5193 as the foundational requirement for all porn shoots in the state, ostensibly making it easier for them to do the same thing in state after state.

When contacted today by AVN, Fattorosi agreed that the OSHA citation, while occurring at the federal level, “drives home the point that this isn't just a California issue and that if other states adopt the same stance that Cal-OSHA did [by not making necessary changes to §5193], porn production can be regulated out of existence. A prosecutor wouldn't need to bother with prostitution or pandering charges that could result in a Freeman-like decision when he could just opt to charge the producer with violating a regulatory law.”

Fattorosi also noted yesterday that federal OSHA, whose bloodborne pathogen guidelines can be found here, will play a pivotal role in shaping any changes state and local health officials want to make to §5193. “Cal-OSHA has already informed us that before 5193 can be amended,” he said, “federal OSHA will need to review and approve it. Once approved by federal OSHA, other states only need to adopt the approved regulation and we will have a federal condom law.”

In that context, the citation by OSHA of LabCorp, a publicly traded corporation with more than 34,000 employees nationwide and an estimated 220,000 clients that include physician offices, hospitals, managed care organizations, and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, may include fines that are a drop in the bucket to such a large company, but it does show that the feds are sensitive enough to violations that they are citing repeat offenders and may be open to a more influential role.

With LabCorp, as workerscompensation.com noted, “One repeat citation was issued with $38,500 in proposed fines. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar hazards were cited in 2011 at a Jersey City, N.J., facility.”

In this instance, the federal citation was against a medical testing facility, the type of business normally targeted under bloodborne pathogen laws. Unfortunately, California’s version of the same law has already been extended to cover the adult entertainment industry, though thus far only in parts of Los Angeles County. The existent danger, Fattorosi told AVN yesterday and professional sports franchises in a letter last week, is that the traditional limits placed on §5193 could become newly accepted standards for a whole array of susceptible industries not only in the state but nationwide.