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January 8, 2009

Pitt appeals OSHA citation

Pitt has appealed a citation issued by a federal agency as the result of an incident in a University laboratory.

On Sept. 24, lab worker Patricia Boyle was bitten on her right hand while feeding a macaque monkey, requiring hand surgery and a lengthy stay in the hospital.

Following an investigation, the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) cited the University Nov. 21 for two serious violations, according to OSHA spokesperson Leni Fortson. Pitt failed to provide adequate training for its lab technicians and there was insufficient safety equipment, including protective gloves, inside the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory in the Biomedical Science Tower 3 where the incident took place, Fortson told the University Times last month.
The citation carries a $5,250 fine, she said.

On Dec. 11, Pitt appealed the citation. By law, that appeal comes under the purview of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, the independent federal agency that serves as the court system to adjudicate disputes arising from contested work place safety inspections.

Commission executive secretary Ray Darling Jr. confirmed the appeal had been filed, but said a hearing date has not been set.
John Fedele, Pitt associate director of news, said, “The University has appealed the citation. Our position is that the University provided all appropriate equipment and training.” Fedele declined to comment further.

Boyle could not be reached for comment.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 41 Issue 9

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