Friday, May 25 , 2018, 3:58 am | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 

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Santa Barbara Officials Pledge Action After OSHA Violations Reported at Police Station

City of Santa Barbara officials have pledged to correct violations found after a series of workplace safety inspections took place in the city's police station.

Employees had raised questions about lead, asbestos and other substances in the station, and the Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health issued a citation last week documenting seven infractions.

Cal/OSHA's inspections occurred between February and August of this year, and the violations included not having an effective injury and illness prevention program as well as several infractions related to "bad housekeeping," the report said.

Black dust was observed in the men’s locker room, mold was observed in the fitness room, and stains from water leaks were seem in Murphy’s Room.

The city had established an exposure control plan for officers exposed to hazardous materials such as bloodborne pathogens, but the decontamination area didn't have all the required materials, according to the report. 

There was also documentation stating that the city had not provided asbestos and lead workplace records. Lead was found in samples taken inside the shooting range and asbestos containing materials were found in ceiling material that had fallen on the floor of the station’s fitness room.

The citations must be corrected by Sept. 30, and the $7,875 fine must be paid within 15 working days.

Mark Howard, risk manager with the city's finance department, said that the Cal/OSHA document arrived Monday afternoon and staff from multiple departments met to discuss.

"The important thing is that we do take safety seriously," he said, adding that the city has been working for a while on some of the concerns police have had about air quality at the station.

Because the citations fall into the category of housekeeping, "the good news is those are easily correctable," Howard said. He believes the city can meet the deadline for the changes.

"It's not as if the building is filthy, it's an older building and even when you clean it to your best ability, it still looks well worn," he said.

The fines will be covered by the police department's budget, which comes out of the city's general fund. The police chief will decide exactly where the money comes from, Howard said.

City Manager Paul Casey echoed similar thoughts, saying that the city wants to keep officers safe and will make the changes needed.

“Police employee safety is a top priority and we will fix whatever corrections OSHA has identified,” he said.

Sgt. Mike McGrew, president of the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association, has been pushing for the changes.

McGrew has worked for the department for 29 years, and said more incidents of cancer among employees and retirees have caught his attention in recent years.

“We’re just grateful that the OSHA took this seriously and looked into these matters,” McGrew said Monday.

McGrew said he’s been able to talk with city management and command staff, who have said they’ll get the violations fixed.

“We suspected that there was asbestos in the ceiling,” he said. “We weren’t surprised by anything the report found.”

McGrew represents about 180 members of the Police Officers Association, and said they were “grateful” for the OSHA action.

“It’s been on their minds for quite some time,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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