Less than two years after two maintenance workers suffered fatal burns while working on a steam line at a Veterans Administration facility in Connecticut, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has again issued notices to the VA for similar violations.
OSHA said Monday it identified one willful violation and two repeat violations at the Northern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Prescott, Arizona, and issued three serious notices for exposing workers to burns and other injuries by allowing them to work on steam lines but implement proper security protocols.
The latest announcements followed the deaths in November 2020 of two maintenance workers who suffered steam burns at the VA medical facility in West Haven, Connecticut.
In the Arizona case, OSHA said inspectors found the facility lacked energy isolation procedures designed to prevent the release of hazardous energy when steam lines are serviced.
Workers followed an “ad-hoc process”; that did not meet federal workplace safety standards and the facility failed to train workers in proper safety procedures, according to OSHA.
Federal agencies must adhere to the same safety standards as private sector employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
A private company cited for similar violations could face penalties of more than $315,000, OSHA said.
Federal agencies such as the VA receive notices of unsafe and unhealthy working conditions and are required to demonstrate that they have addressed the hazards, but they are not assessed financial penalties.