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OSHRC sets aside psychiatric hospital citation and fine


The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ruled Thursday that a judge erred when she affirmed a workplace citation and fine issued to the owner of a Colorado psychiatric hospital.

The commission set aside the decision by former Administrative Law Judge Peggy S. Ball, who had affirmed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s citation and $11,934 penalty against UHS of Denver Inc., owner of a psychiatric hospital in Littleton, Colorado.

The company was issued a serious violation citation by OSHA after being accused of failing to protect its employees from workplace violence by psychiatric patients.

Judge Ball had noted that UHS did not produce certain financial documents and did not make its chief financial officer available for a deposition. As a result, she ruled the company had not provided sufficient evidence that adopting a list of 10 abatement measures OSHA proposed to protect hospital employees from “physical threats and assaults” by patients would constitute a financial hardship.

The OSHRC ruled that Judge Ball erred in drawing the adverse inference and remanded the case, saying another judge would have to determine whether economic feasibility was established.