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Ambulance operator cited for unsafe blood handling

Ambulance operator cited for unsafe blood handling

An Illinois emergency medical service provider has been cited and is facing $290,100 in proposed penalties from federal safety and health regulators for exposing employees to bloodborne pathogen risks.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Altamont, Illinois-based Altamont Ambulance Service Inc. for failing to follow specific guidelines to protect emergency health care workers from exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other hazards while providing patient care, the agency said Thursday in a statement.

OSHA issued five willful, 16 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health citations for violations such as failing to establish an exposure control plan for bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious material, make hepatitis B vaccination series available to employees, train workers about chemical and bloodborne pathogen hazards and precautions, and develop an emergency response plan.

The agency opened inspections in January after receiving a complaint alleging violations of OSHA's bloodborne pathogen exposure and various other health and safety standards.

“OSHA has specific guidelines to protect health care workers who provide patient care,” Aaron Priddy, the agency's area director for its Fairview Heights, Illinois, office, said in the statement. “Altamont Ambulance Service has a responsibility to protect both its patients and staff from injury and illness during procedures and to keep its workers safe at its facility.”

“On July 6, Altamont Ambulance Service, Inc. received the results of an OSHA inspection," Altamont Chief Operating Officer J.D. Welton said in an emailed statement. "During the OSHA inspection, Altamont Ambulance Service Inc. cooperated fully and the inspection went smoothly. We take the safety of our employees seriously. We are looking forward to working with OSHA to resolve any issues identified. We have no further comment.”