McGuire VA Medical Center issued 14 safety violations for exposing workers to an unsafe workplace

Posted at 3:38 PM, Nov 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-17 23:28:04-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration have issued notices to the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, located in Richmond, Virginia, for 14 safety violations.

The safety violations include four willful, two serious, and eight other-than-serious violations.

OSHA said on May 6, 2015, they initiated its inspection in response to a complaint alleging inadequate protections for employees exposed to workplace violence hazards while providing patient care.

A willful violation is a violation in which the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement (purposeful disregard) or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.

The willful violations in this case involved the medical center exposing employees to workplace violence and physical assault, failing to train employees on the prevention and management of workplace violence, and failing to properly record workplace injuries and illnesses.

A serious violation exists when the workplace hazard could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation. In this case, supervisors and employees were not trained on recordkeeping, resulting in the serious violations.

The other-than-serious violations have a direct relationship to job safety and health, but are not serious in nature. In this case, the investigation found violations all related to recordkeeping deficiencies.

McGuire Veterans Medical Center was issued the notice on November 6, they have 15 business days from that date to comply or request an informal conference with OSHA's area director.

Navy veteran Henry Mack has been going to McGuires since 1968.

“I’m somewhat surprised.  I haven’t experienced or encountered that situation," Mack said. "When I come in, I usually receive good service,” Mack said.

He said he has not experienced anything negative, or anything that would show work place violence or any kind of violence towards employees, staff or anything like that.

“It may be." Mack said.  "But I haven’t experienced.  The thing I come to get is good care and I receive it.”

Stanley J. Dutko Jr., OSHA's area director released a statement about their findings at McGuire:

“The safety hazards identified at this facility demonstrate a need for a renewed commitment by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a safe workplace for the VA employees who care for our nation's  service members, veterans, their families and survivors,” said Dutko Jr. “All employers, including federal employers, are responsible for evaluating and determining the extent to which employees may be exposed to physical assault or other forms of workplace violence and taking the appropriate actions to eliminate or minimize that exposure. Every employer is responsible for ensuring their workplaces are safe and healthy for all employees."

McGuire responded to the findings with a statement:

“McGuire VA Medical Center takes the safety of all employees, Veterans and family members very seriously.”

“The recent inspection and notice from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provided important feedback for the continuing improvement and strengthening of our safety program.”

“The report outlined training and documentation deficiencies, which are already being addressed.”

“The medical center values the OSHA review and has requested an opportunity to discuss these findings with OSHA to gain a better understanding of their recommendations.”

McGuire VA Medical Center has been inspected six times since 1992. Four of those inspections have resulted in notices, including in 2009 when the facility received notices for recordkeeping deficiencies.

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