The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations with proposed penalties totaling $149,100 to Texas Linen Company Ltd. in Austin, Texas, for one willful, 43 alleged serious and one other-than-serious safety violations.

"This company failed to protect its employees from workplace hazards which could have caused illness and injuries," said Eric Harbin, OSHA's area director in Austin. "It is critical that employers follow OSHA's standards to provide a safe and healthful working environment. Fortunately, no one was injured in this case."

Following an inspection that began on February 21 at the company's worksite on Smith Road in Austin, OSHA issued a willful violation for not providing the Hepatitis B vaccination to employees within 10 days of being assigned to handle soiled healthcare linens. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The 43 serious citations included failing to: correct electrical hazards; provide machine guarding for power transmission devices; protect employees from exposure to bloodborne pathogens while handling contaminated health care linens; and provide sanitary working conditions. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result when the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

Texas Linen has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Austin or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.