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OSHA Issues Citations and Penalties to Two Funeral Homes

Posted: November 22, 2011

OSHA recently issued citations and penalties to two funeral homes, giving you insight into OSHA's increased focus on compliance with the Bloodborne Pathogens and Formaldehyde Standards.

Case #1: A Pennsylvania funeral home was issued three citations and an initial total penalty of $5,400 following an inspection made under a local emphasis program for bloodborne pathogens compliance. All three citations, which were issued under the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, were considered "serious violations."

  • Violation 1: The funeral home failed to have the required exposure control plan, which must be reviewed and updated at least annually and whenever new or modified tasks and procedures that affect occupational exposure are implemented. The funeral home was given an initial penalty of $2,400.
  • Violation 2: As part of the exposure control plan, every year funeral homes must give consideration to and implement appropriate commercially available and effective medical devices designed to eliminate or minimize occupational exposure. This violation was combined with the first violation and penalty.
  • Violation 3: Engineering and work practice controls must be used to eliminate or minimize employee exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Where occupational exposure remains after implementing these controls, personal protective equipment must also be used. The funeral home was given an initial penalty of $3,000.

During an informal conference, which was held at the request of the employer, the total penalty of $5,400 was reduced to $3,240.

Case #2: A Georgia funeral home underwent a formaldehyde-emphasis inspection. The inspection resulted in two "serious violations" and one "other than serious violation" and the funeral home was issued an initial penalty of $7,800.

  • Violation 1 - OSHA Personal Protective Equipment Standard: The funeral home failed to verify that the required OSHA Workplace Hazard Assessment had been performed. There must be a written certification, which is clearly identified as such, that identifies the workplace being evaluated, the date of the assessment, and the name of the person performing the evaluation and issuing the certification. This "other than serious violation" carried an initial penalty of $1,800.
  • Violation 2: - Bloodborne Pathogen Standard: The employer failed to have a written exposure control plan designed to eliminate or minimize employee exposure. This "serious violation" carried an initial penalty of $3,000.
  • Violation 3 - Hazard Communication Standard: The employer failed to have a written hazard communication program that described how the employer will meet the criteria for labels and other forms of warnings, material safety data sheets, and employee information and training. This "serious violation" had an initial penalty of $3,000.

During an informal conference requested by the employer, the initial penalty of $7,800 was reduced to $2,400.

These citations and penalties and the ones that have been previously reported to you in the NFDA Bulletin, show that OSHA is taking enforcement of the standards and regulations that pertain to funeral service seriously and confirms the existence of local emphasis programs for formaldehyde and bloodborne pathogens.

For more information on OSHA standards and compliance requirements, visit the NFDA website or call the NFDA OSHA Hotline. The hotline can assist with nearly all inquiries. NFDA members can also call NFDA OSHA Counsel Edward M. Ranier with OSHA-related legal questions at 410-967-1812.