The state Department of Labor & Industries said Monday it has cited and fined Motel 6 Vancouver a total of $112,450 for multiple willful and serious health violations, including exposing workers to used hypodermic needles.
An inspection by Labor & Industries at Motel 6 on Northeast Chkalov Drive found there were “five needle-stick injuries to workers at the motel in the last two years,” the state agency said in a news release. People exposed to infected blood from used needles can contract infectious diseases such as HIV, Heptatis B or Hepatitis C.
“These diseases can cause permanent disability and death,” L&I said.
A representative of the motel said Monday he would appeal the citation.
“We disagree with their citation,” said Rocky Patel, vice president of H&R Management Inc. “We are filing an appeal.” Patel said the company’s top concern is employee safety.
The company has until Feb. 13 to appeal L&I’s findings.
“We have not yet received an appeal,” Elaine Fischer, a spokeswoman for L&I, said in an email to The Columbian.
Labor & Industries cited Motel 6 Vancouver for a total of nine alleged violations. Public documents show six of them were corrected during L&I’s inspection of the site.
Four of the nine violations were “willful” infractions, each carrying a penalty of $27,500, of the health standards that protect workers from biological hazards. A willful violation can be issued when L&I “has evidence of plain indifference, a substitution of judgment or an intentional disregard to a hazard or rule,” the state agency said.
The individual fine amounts levied against Motel 6 Vancouver ranged from $560 to $27,500, documents show.
“No bloodborne pathogen training program was in effect that was designed to eliminate or minimize employee exposure,” according to one alleged willful violation.
Labor & Industries launched an inspection of Motel 6 Vancouver in August 2014 after the agency received a complaint that workers were exposed to used hypodermic needles, the agency said.
In addition to the four alleged willful violations, L&I cited the company for a repeat-serious violation “for failure to train workers on safe use of chemical cleaning products” and for two repeat-general violations for “not holding regular safety meetings and not maintaining records for bloodborne pathogen training.”
The company has previously been inspected and cited for serious violations in 2011 and 2012, according to L&I.
During L&I’s inspection, Motel 6 Vancouver corrected three of the four willful violations, one of the two repeat-general violations, one of two general violations, and the repeat-serious violation, according to documents.
Corrections are due Feb. 8 for one willful violation, one repeat-general violation and a general violation.
Fines paid in response to citations go into the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, which helps workers and families of those who have died on the job.