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ACMH Hospital may face $8,000 in fines

| Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 12:42 a.m.

EAST FRANKLIN — ACMH Hospital could be fined up to $8,000 by the U.S. Department of Labor in response to a complaint that workers in the hospital's behavioral health unit are at risk of being assaulted by patients.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued two citations to the facility: one “serious” violation “for hazards associated with the hospital's failure to implement programs and procedures to protect workers from injuries resulting from attacks by patients” and a second, “other-than-serious” violation for failing to record a work-related injury in an OSHA log.

According to a news release from the Labor Department, a serious violation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm to employees could result from infractions and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

“Workplace violence can strike anywhere, anytime and no one is immune,” said Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA's Pittsburgh Area office. “Health care professionals are at high risk of facing this type of hazard, so it's vital that health care employers take the precautions necessary to ensure that workers are protected.”

OSHA's release did not provide any details about its allegations, including dates.

In response to a request for comment, ACMH Hospital issued a statement, noting that contrary to OSHA's characterization, the facility's behavioral health unit is not a forensic psychiatry unit and does not require the physical modifications to its workplace that OSHA suggests.

“ACMH has been a trusted member of the community since 1898 and values the health and safety of its patients and employees,” the statement reads. “ACMH has implemented numerous policies and procedures, many of which are the same ones suggested by OSHA, to ensure the safety of employees working in every department of the hospital. The behavioral health unit is no exception.”

ACMH's statement did not provide details about the complaint.

ACMH has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA representatives or contest the citations and penalties before an independent review commission.

According to the hospital's statement, ACMH officials plan to meet with OSHA “to clarify with the agency the good and safe work it does with its employees throughout the hospital.”

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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