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State slaps TheBus with big fine for not properly training workers on COVID cleaning sprays

The state Occupational Safety and Health branch has fined TheBus more than $26,000 for not...
The state Occupational Safety and Health branch has fined TheBus more than $26,000 for not properly training workers who used coronavirus cleaning sprays.(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 5:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Occupational Safety and Health branch has fined TheBus more than $26,000 for not properly training workers who used coronavirus cleaning sprays.

The agency also said bus officials should have conducted an assessment for hazardous materials before conducting the spraying.

“Lack of effective information and training exposed employees to health hazards ... associated with the corrosive disinfectant chemicals,” Tak Ming Randal Tiu, a HIOSH supervisor, wrote in November.

The disinfectants, which go by the brand name Artemis BIO-40TB and Clean Scent Quat Germicidal, were used to prevent the spread of the virus in city buses. But they also contain chemicals that can irritate or corrode the skin or cause eye damage or eye irritation.

“This is an extremely serious situation. Workers who are not informed about the potential hazardous material they were handling,” said attorney Tom Grande.

“It’s not only a potential for a problem for someone who has an allergy but there is a potential for serious harm to someone who has extreme sensitivity to these chemicals.”

The city and Oahu Transit Services said the problems cited by HIOSH have since been addressed.

“OTS was able to correct all citations and paid the associated fines. The severity of the citations was reduced to other-than-serious status,” said city spokesman Tim Sakahara.

Walter Chun, who was formerly the supervisor for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Hawaii office, said HIOSH may have overreacted.

He said the disinfectants cited by HIOSH are actually common household products that are diluted with water before they are used.

“Disinfectants are not the kind of things you’re going to sit and drink and place in areas where children can be exposed,” he said.

He said if the standards required of the bus are applied across the board to everyone, it could hurt many small businesses.

“A small business hit with a $26,000 penalty would have a difficult time meeting their financial commitments,” he said.

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