Aspen Note: Commercial property owners be forewarned. You are responsible for illness resulting from mold exposure in your buildings. Repercussions from lawsuits and OSHA (as seen in this article) are much more common, as the public now realizes mold as a serious health threat.
If you suspect mold, have had recent leaks or flooding, or own an old building, call us to test for mold.
A federal workplace safety agency has cited the Salem VA Medical Center for a serious violation for allowing employees to be exposed to indoor mold, thereby creating unsafe and unhealthy working conditions.
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections of Building 75 at the Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility, starting with an inspection on Dec. 20, determined that “employees were exposed to the hazard of mold in work spaces and corridors” in the building.
According to an OSHA citation issued March 16, the exposure created a potential for the “onset of allergic reactions, asthma attacks and exacerbation or aggravation of allergies, asthma and other health conditions.”
OSHA alleged that “the employer did not implement adequate measures to prevent active mold growth in the building.”
One of many mold test kits. Ideally, mold tests should be sent to a reliable lab, like a state facility.
On March 10, OSHA gave the center 30 days to respond with remediation to remove the mold.
The Salem VA Medical Center describes Building 75 as a non-patient care building that serves as a wellness center.
Stanley Dutko, area director in Norfolk for OSHA, said the agency investigated after receiving a signed complaint about the mold from a current employee.
Dutko said six employees reported having respiratory reactions they attributed to the mold. He said OSHA’s investigation found that the Salem VA Medical Center had been aware, going back as far as 2007 and 2011, that there were issues with mold in Building 75.
He said the center’s lack of adequate response triggered the citation.
“We always try to work with the employer first,” Dutko said.
Brett Robbins, a spokesman for the Salem VA Medical Center, said Monday that the hospital has contracted with a company to perform the necessary remediation, which he said should be completed by April 5.
“Salem takes all reports of safety concerns seriously and will continue to provide a safe working environment for its veterans, visitors and employees,” Robbins said in an email.
He said the facility’s safety office had performed an indoor air quality review of Building 75 in November that was related to potential mold.
“Following the review, the facility removed any items with visible substance identified, completed plumbing repairs and ensured scheduled maintenance by the North York HVAC service was accomplished,” Robbins said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that indoor mold can cause respiratory infections and worsen illnesses such as asthma.
There are reports and also evidence that indoor mold and other hazards associated with water-damaged buildings can cause additional health problems. But CDC has said there is no conclusive evidence that indoor mold is associated with many other health problems, such as pulmonary hemorrhage, memory loss and lack of energy.
Source: The National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), printed in the Roanoke Times, reporter Tiffany Stevens contributor.
Contact Aspen for anything related to water damage cleanup, mold testing, mold removal, or air ducts: Call 978.328.0882 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aspen Environmental professionals are licensed and insured and members of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (NORMI), the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), and the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).