Last August, 2018, President Priscilla Searles and members of Cornerstone HPAE Local 5112 complained to NJ Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH) about dangerous working conditions at the facility. Their complaint cited, “Repeated instances of patient’s violence and aggressive behavior that led to employee injury and trauma, as well as uncontrolled exposures to bloodborne pathogens and infectious materials.”
Inspectors from both the Safety and Health divisions of PEOSH performed a series of unscheduled inspections and issued a Notice of Order to Comply with violations of OSHA’s General Duty Clause and the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. Members and local officials met with management to collaboratively implement OSHA’s recommendations to improve safety at the facility. Citations would have included monetary fines had they not been abated in a timely fashion.
As of May, 2019, all citations had been abated by management. In the process, HPAE members gained:
- Installation of additional monitoring cameras at Cornerstone that transmit directly to law enforcement; ensuring rapid response in case of patient violence
- Management working with HPAE Local 5112 and other local representatives to actively address violence hazards
- Additional trained management assigned during off shifts to address violence emergencies
- Revised Workplace Violence Prevention training for all employees
- Revisions of Cornerstone’s Bloodborne Pathogen/ BBP Policy to better protect workers from infectious hazards
- Revisions and upgrading Cornerstone’s BBP training for all employees
- Provision of additional employee protective equipment stations throughout patient areas at Cornerstone so gloves, gowns and masks are available whenever needed.