PARAMUS, N.J. – Bergen Regional Medical Center has hired a Washington, D.C. law firm to contest a federal workplace safety fine after assaults by patients on employees in eight incidents this year, hospital officials confirmed to northjersey.com.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration this month proposed a fine of $13,600 against the medical center after employees reported incidents that involved patients barricading workers in a room, threatening them and “exposing them to bloodborne pathogens,” OSHA said. Several employees were bitten, punched and kicked by patients, the agency said.
OSHA accused the medical center of failing to keep the workplace free of hazards and incorrectly recording workplace injuries on an OSHA reporting form.
Instead of pursuing an informal conference this week with OSHA’s area director to resolve the complaint, the medical center has hired the law firm to contest it, Donnalee Corrieri, a hospital spokeswoman, told northjersey.com. Corrieri declined to say how much the hospital was spending on the law firm.
“Bergen Regional Medical Center remains confident that the medical center's ongoing commitment to maintaining a safe environment for its patients, employees and guests will lead to a vindication,” she said.
In June, OSHA expanded its enforcement efforts in hospitals and nursing homes to focus on workplace violence, which the agency says is one of the most common causes of injuries among health care workers.
“Bergen Regional Medical Center’s management recognized workplace hazards, but lacked adequate procedures to prevent employee exposure,” Lisa Levy, director of OSHA’s Hasbrouck Heights Area Office, said in announcing the complaint this month. “With so many incidents, it’s clear that this facility’s workplace violence program is ineffective and should be improved immediately to protect employees and ensure a safe workplace.”
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