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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OSHA News Release: [01/17/2013]
Contact Name: Scott Allen or Rhonda Burke
Phone Number: (312) 353-6976
Release Number: 12-2525-CHI

US Department of Labor's OSHA finds 7 safety violations at Battle Creek, Mich., medical center for veterans

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued seven notices of unsafe or unhealthful working conditions found at the Battle Creek Veterans Administration Medical Center, following a safety inspection conducted in July as part of OSHA's Federal Agency Targeting Inspection Program.

"The Battle Creek Veterans Administration Medical Center failed to properly ensure the facility was in compliance with established safety and health procedures," said Robert Bonack, director of OSHA's Lansing Area Office. "All employers, including federal employers, are responsible for knowing what hazards exist in their facilities and taking appropriate precautions by following OSHA standards so workers are not exposed to such hazards."

Three repeat safety violations involved failing to evaluate the workplace to identify if permit-required confined spaces were present and label such spaces with danger signs; failing to adequately guard automated laundry equipment to prevent employees from entering the work area, and failing to fully guard the belt and pulley of an air compressor. To issue notices for repeat violations, OSHA must have issued at least one other notice for the same violation at one of the agency's establishments within the same standard industrial classification code, commonly known as the SIC code. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in Danville and North Chicago, Ill., and Minneapolis, Minn., have been cited for the same safety and health violations.

Three serious safety violations involved unguarded floor openings in the general repair shop; failing to inspect powered industrial trucks prior to placing them in service, and failing to remove trucks from service in need of repair. Additionally, a circuit breaker panel was found not to be mounted correctly. A serious notice is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. One other-than-serious violation involved failing to close unused openings on electrical cabinets and junction boxes. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

As required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, federal agencies must comply with the same safety standards as private sector employers. The federal agency equivalent to a private sector citation is the notice of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions. A notice is used to inform establishment officials of violations of OSHA standards, alternate standards and 29 Code of Federal Regulations citable program elements. OSHA cannot propose monetary penalties against another federal agency for failure to comply with OSHA standards.

The medical center has 15 business days from receipt of the notices to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or appeal the notices by submitting a summary of the agency's position on the unresolved issues to OSHA's regional administrator.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Lansing Area Office at 517-487-4996.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.