REPRINT from Advisen.com
Source: Roanoke Times 03/28/2017
A federal workplace safety agency has cited the Salem VA Medical Center for a serious violation for allowing employees to be exposed to indoor mold, thereby creating unsafe and unhealthy working conditions.
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections of Building 75 at the Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility, starting with an inspection on Dec. 20, determined that “employees were exposed to the hazard of mold in work spaces and corridors” in the building.
According to an OSHA citation issued March 16, the exposure created a potential for the “onset of allergic reactions, asthma attacks and exacerbation or aggravation of allergies, asthma and other health conditions.”
OSHA alleged that “the employer did not implement adequate measures to prevent active mold growth in the building.”
On March 10, OSHA gave the center 30 days to respond with remediation to remove the mold.
The Salem VA Medical Center describes Building 75 as a non-patient care building that serves as a wellness center.
Stanley Dutko, area director in Norfolk for OSHA, said the agency investigated after receiving a signed complaint about the mold from a current employee.
Dutko said six employees reported having respiratory reactions they attributed to the mold. He said OSHA’s investigation found that the Salem VA Medical Center had been aware, going back as far as 2007 and 2011, that there were issues with mold in Building 75.
He said the center’s lack of adequate response triggered the citation.
“We always try to work with the employer first,” Dutko said.
Brett Robbins, a spokesman for the Salem VA Medical Center, said Monday that the hospital has contracted with a company to perform the necessary remediation, which he said should be completed by April 5.
“Salem takes all reports of safety concerns seriously and will continue to provide a safe working environment for its veterans, visitors and employees,” Robbins said in an email.
He said the facility’s safety office had performed an indoor air quality review of Building 75 in November that was related to potential mold.
“Following the review, the facility removed any items with visible substance identified, completed plumbing repairs and ensured scheduled maintenance on the HVAC system was accomplished,” Robbins said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that indoor mold can cause respiratory infections and worsen illnesses such as asthma.
There are reports and also evidence that indoor mold and other hazards associated with water-damaged buildings can cause additional health problems. But CDC has said there is no conclusive evidence that indoor mold is associated with many other health problems, such as pulmonary hemorrhage, memory loss and lack of energy.
Reporter Tiffany Stevens contributed to this report.
For more information training and solutions to this and other IAQ issues, contact www.NORMI.org or call 877.251.2296