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L&I fines Motel 6 after workers exposed to used needles

The following is from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries:

TUMWATER (Feb. 3, 2015) — Exposure of workers to used hypodermic needles while cleaning rooms, and a lack of required training on the use of chemical cleaners are among the violations that have resulted in a fine and citation for a Vancouver Motel 6. The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has fined the motel $112,450 for multiple willful and serious violations related to health hazards to workers.

motel-6-vancouverAn L&I inspection at the Motel 6 on NE Chkalov Drive found there were five needle-stick injuries to workers at the motel in the last two years. A person exposed to infected blood from used needles can contract an infectious disease such as HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. These diseases can cause permanent disability and death.

The inspection began in August 2014 after L&I received a complaint that workers were exposed to used hypodermic needles.

The employer was cited for four willful violations of the health standards that protect workers from biological hazards. Each of the willful violations carries a penalty of $27,500.

The employer was also cited for a repeat-serious violation for failure to train workers on safe use of chemical cleaning products, and two repeat-general violations for not holding regular safety meetings and not maintaining records for bloodborne pathogen training. The employer had previously been inspected and cited for serious violations for in 2011 and 2012.

A willful violation can be issued when L&I has evidence of plain indifference, a substitution of judgment or an intentional disregard to a hazard or rule. A serious violation exists in a workplace if there is a substantial probability that worker death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition.

The employer has 15 working days to appeal the citation. Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.

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