UPDATE: Labor and Industries fines Value Motel $7,500

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

Updated: July 27, 2011, 8:07 PM

 

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has levied $7,500 in fines against the Value Motel in Hazel Dell.

A health inspector and a safety inspector with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health conducted an inspection of the motel June 1.

Both inspectors issued findings in reports released this month.

In the safety report, which was issued July 13, the state cited and fined the motel for four “serious” violations and one “general” violation. Fines for the serious violations ranged from $150 to $900.

In the health report, which was issued Friday, the state cited and fined the motel for eight serious violations and one general violation. Six of the serious violations carried $900 fines; the two others carried $300 fines.

The general violations didn’t include fines.

Value Motel owner Milton O. Brown did not respond to The Columbian’s request for comment.

Hector Castro, spokesman for Labor and Industries, said the inspection was prompted by multiple media reports on the condition of the motel.

The safety report indicated three of the five violations were corrected during the inspection. The motel has until Aug. 15 to correct the remaining violations.

Here’s a breakdown of the violations cited by the state in the safety report:

• The large industrial dryer in the laundry room had an exposed chain and sprocket. Employees who come in contact with the exposed chain and sprocket are at risk of serious injury. Fine: $300.

• A pedestal grinder did not have a tongue guard for the grinding wheel. The grinder was located in the maintenance shed. Fine: $150.

• The grinder also didn’t have a properly adjusted work rest for the grinding wheel. Fine: $150.

• The motel did not have a formal, written accident prevention program that was developed and tailored to the needs of the workplace. Fine: $900.

• The motel owner did not conduct monthly safety meetings as required by law and did not have a safety committee in place. No fine.

Brown has until Aug. 5 to appeal the citations in the first report, Castro said.

The health report indicates all of the violations were corrected during the inspection.

Here’s a breakdown of the violations cited in the health report:

• The motel did not have a written exposure control plan designed to eliminate or minimize employee exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

“Housekeeping staff may encounter used needles, syringes and razor blades in the course of their work,” according to the report.

Exposure to infected blood can result in contracting an infectious disease such as HIV or hepatitis B. Fine: $900.

• The motel owners didn’t provide bloodborne pathogen training to employees with occupational exposure. Fine: $900.

• The owner did not make hepatitis B vaccines available to employees with exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Housekeeping and maintenance staff manually dispose of used needles and syringes. Fine: $900.

• The employer did not handle regulated waste properly and safely. Six of the 12 sharps containers on site had broken lids and all contained used sharps. The containers should be closable, puncture resistant and leakproof.

In addition, the report found that “linens (towels, bedding) that have been either caked with dried blood or OPIM (other potentially infectious materials) or saturated with blood or OPIM have been bagged in unmarked bags and disposed in the dumpster.”

The items should be marked as regulated waste and disposed of appropriately. Fine: $900.

• The employer didn’t require employees to use respiratory protection when hazards had not been removed.

“In this instance,” housekeeping employees spent two days cleaning the mice-infested laundry room, without respiratory protection and without using feasible controls,” according to the report.

Potential exposure to biological agents, like hantavirus, occurs during cleanup where employees handle animals or animal waste. Fine: $300.

• The motel owners did not control pests like rodents, birds and insects. The owners didn’t ensure the building was constructed, equipped and maintained so it restricts pests from entering or living in it. Fine: $900.

• The employer didn’t ensure that emergency washing stations were available or accessible where an employees’ eyes could come into contact with corrosives or toxic chemicals. Fine: $300.

• The motel owners didn’t develop, implement, maintain and make available a written chemical hazard communication program. Fine: $900.

• The employer didn’t provide employees who were voluntarily wearing respirators with the advisory information listing the limits of the respirators. No fine.

Brown has until Aug. 15 to appeal the citations in the second report, Castro said.

Health department investigation

The Washington State Department of Health also has an open investigation into the motel.

State health officials conducted a safety survey of the Value Motel on March 30 and later produced a 17-page report outlining dozens of deficiencies at the motel. On June 27, Brown submitted a signed report to the state indicating that after 60 days of work, the motel’s deficiencies had been corrected.

State health officials conducted a follow-up inspection two days later on June 29, said Gordon MacCracken, spokesman for the state health department.

The results of the inspection are still under review, MacCracken said.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com.