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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 2:50 pm | Partly Cloudy 64º


Cal/OSHA Issues Citation, Fines for Santa Barbara Police Station Workplace Violations

East Figueroa Street building has been under investigation since February for mold, dust, lead paint residue and inadequate decontamination areas

Cal/OSHA has issued a citation to the Santa Barbara Police Department, alleging that the department has established but not implemented an effective Injury and Illness Prevention program.
Cal/OSHA has issued a citation to the Santa Barbara Police Department, alleging that the department has established but not implemented an effective Injury and Illness Prevention program. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Cal/OSHA issued a citation to the City of Santa Barbara for workplace violations found during its inspections of the police station, mainly related to “bad housekeeping,” documents show.

The Santa Barbara Police Department’s building at 215 E. Figueroa St. has been investigated since February, according to the state Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

The citation, with seven separate items totaling $7,875 in penalties, accuses the city of establishing but not implementing an effective Injury and Illness Prevention program for employees.

In the police station, there is “bad housekeeping throughout the facility, such as mold on walls, dirty locker rooms, construction dust and debris in work areas, the deterioration of lead paint on the wall of the fitness room, and stained ceiling tiles in Murphy’s Room, as well as the lack of controls in relation to dust and construction material being released by renovation activities.”

Work areas were not kept clean from mold, construction dust, or a black dust that built up in the men’s locker room, according to the citation signed by Andreea Minea, Cal/OSHA district manager and compliance officer.

The building’s two eyewash stations hadn’t been activated monthly to verify they operated properly, and the designated decontamination area didn’t have the materials to use in case of exposure to human blood or body fluids — which include hot water, germicides, antibacterial soup and bleach solution — according to Cal/OSHA’s investigation.

Additional items pointed out violations for not keeping surfaces as “free as practicable” of accumulations of lead, as found from wipe samples taken in the shooting range.

Pieces of ceiling material found on the fitness room floor were tested and determined to have asbestos-containing materials, the citation states.

All the violations must be abated by Sept. 30 and penalties paid — unless the findings are appealed — within 15 days, according to the Cal/OSHA documents.

The citation was delivered to the city Friday, which was a no-work day for the city, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood, an SBPD spokesman.

Municipal officials, including City Administrator Paul Casey and Police Chief Cam Sanchez, plan to discuss the citation Monday, Harwood said.

“The Police Department takes these concerns identified by OSHA very seriously,” Harwood said.

Members of the Santa Barbara Police Officers’ Association have long had concerns about asbestos in the building and lead exposure in the building’s shooting range.

Sgt. Mike McGrew, president of the POA, said employees pushed for testing and noticed pieces of the ceiling falling onto desks during renovations to replace the HVAC system.

He also pushed for a decontamination area; He was one of five officers who was treated after being exposed to a violent subject’s blood after the man slammed his hand through a window and then resisted officers.

McGrew said the suspect’s blood made contact with an open wound on his body, and McGrew and the other officers had to be tested for HIV and hepatitis C.

Officers didn’t have anywhere to clean up after the incident, he has told Noozhawk.

After news of the Cal/OSHA investigation came out, the city released a statement saying employee safety is a top priority.

“The police station is an old building, but the city has been assured on multiple occasions by environmental health professionals that the police station is a safe work environment for its employees,” the statement said.

“Nevertheless, management continues to take all employee concerns seriously, and will respond in any way we can to alleviate these concerns.”

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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