Posted: October 15, 2012
OSHA recently announced that it issued citations and penalties against a North Carolina funeral home. It appears that the inspection was conducted to ensure compliance with the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens and Formaldehyde Standards. The funeral home received a total of 11 violations and a total penalty of $7,050. This breaks down to six "serious violations" with a total initial penalty of $6,950, and five "other than serious violations" with a penalty of $100.
The alleged violations were:
- Serious Violations
- A violation of the requirement that employees use appropriate eye and face protection when exposed to, among other things, liquid chemicals, caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors. The penalty was $150.
- A violation of the requirement for facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body within the immediate work area for emergency use when employees are exposed to injurious or corrosive materials. The penalty was $2,100.
- A violation of the requirement for permanent grounds for circuits, equipment and electrical enclosures. The penalty was $2,100.
- A failure to review and update the required Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan at least annually and whenever necessary to reflect new or modified tasks and procedures. The penalty was $2,100.
- An alleged violation of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requirement for training. No penalty was issued for this violation.
- An alleged violation of the Formaldehyde Standard's requirement that initial monitoring for airborne formaldehyde be repeated every time there is a change in production, equipment, process, personnel or control measures that may result in a new or additional exposure to formaldehyde. This penalty was $250.
- An alleged violation of the Formaldehyde Standard's requirement that employees who are assigned to workplaces where there is exposure to formaldehyde participate in a training program. The penalty was $250.
- Other than serious violations
- A violation that appears to be related to OSHA's accident and illness recording requirements. Typically, funeral homes are partially exempt from accident and illness recording requirements because of the excellent safety and health record in funeral service. It is possible this was either an erroneous citation or that North Carolina, which is a state plan state, has adopted a more stringent requirement for recording of injuries and illnesses. It is also possible that the funeral home may have been required to maintain these records and it failed to do so, which is an exception to the general funeral service exemption. This violation contained a penalty of $100
- An alleged violation of the requirement that stairways that have both sides open and are less than 44 inches wide have a stair railing on each side. No penalty was issued.
- An apparent failure to do a hazard assessment of the job site and select appropriate personal protective equipment. No penalty was issued.
- An apparent violation of the portable fire extinguisher rule that requires an annual maintenance check. No penalty was issued.
- An alleged violation of an electrical standard requirement that certain working spaces not be used for storage. Additionally, when normally enclosed live parts are exposed for inspection or servicing, the working space, if in a passageway or open space, must be be suitably guarded. No penalty was issued.
The description of these violations is, by necessity, approximate given the lack of factual information provided by OSHA in its statistical reports. They do indicate, however, the type of violations being cited and penalized against funeral service.
OSHA regulations affecting funeral service are numerous and complex and sometimes you may need help understanding all of their requirements. NFDA, through its online resources, webinars and programs, provides vital compliance assistance to its members.
For more information on OSHA standards and compliance requirements, visit the NFDA website or call the NFDA OSHA Hotline at 800-633-2674 for a complimentary consultation. 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.