Tumwater, WA – The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is citing and fining the state Department of Corrections (DOC) $84,400 for failing to follow safety rules to prevent the spread of disease among workers and inmates at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen.
L&I opened an inspection of the facility in response to complaints during a tuberculosis (TB) outbreak early this year. In April, the Department of Health announced that the state was experiencing its largest TB outbreak in 20 years.
L&I inspectors found workers at the Stafford Creek facility had not received initial or annual fit testing for the N-95 respirators designed to protect them from infection. Regular fit testing ensures that respirators fit tightly and correctly, so they work as intended. L&I provides resources for companies where respirator use is required including training guides, videos, handouts, and sample safety programs. Worn correctly, respirators help protect workers from breathing hazardous air.
An effective respirator program:
- Ensures the right respirator for the hazard,
- Makes sure workers are medically cleared to wear a respirator,
- Conducts fit-testing,
- Trains users on how to wear and properly maintain a respirator, and
- Uses observation and feedback from workers to ensure correct use.
For more information, visit L&I’s Respirator Safety Topic Page. Along with the current citation, the Stafford Creek facility was also cited and fined in Dec. 2021 for not enforcing COVID-19 social distancing and mask procedures for employees.
The DOC has 15 working days to appeal the latest citation, and is required to post a copy for employees. Penalties paid as a result of a citation go into the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.
Source: WA L&I