Hospital Committed Serious Asbestos Violations

An Associated Press article reports that a Kansas City, Missouri hospital is facing a large fine for what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is referring to as “serious” and “willful” asbestos violations.

According to the AP articled, Research Medical Center has 15 days to respond to OSHA’s findings and can either pay the $84,000 fine, negotiate for a lower fine, or dispute the administration’s findings.

Earlier this week, officials at Research Medical Center informed 85 of its employees that they had “potentially” been exposed to asbestos. According to hospital spokesperson Linda Morris Shaffer, none of the employees have received medical examinations in response to the potential exposure.

The article also notes that it is unclear whether the exposure extended to patients and visitors because the OSHA complaint only involves employees and the conditions in which they work.

“We can’t go where there are patients, and we didn’t want to disturb patients,” said Barbara Theriot, OSHA area director.

Shaffer added that hospital officials are trying to determine what else needs to be addressed concerning asbestos.

According to the OSHA report, the material containing asbestos was found in a vinyl wall covering with gray felt backing. The material crumbles easily, which allows the asbestos fibers to become easily airborne.

The OSHA report says that the asbestos is found in hallways, a boiler room, an X-ray control room and several other places throughout the hospital. According to the report, hospital officials knew the amount and location of the asbestos dating back to at least September 2006.

The report says the workers exposed included operating engineers who worked in the boiler room and a housekeeper and floor technician who cleaned patient-care areas. Theriot said OSHA is looking into whether construction workers who were renovating the hospital’s fourth floor were exposed.

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