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Public Service in Newsletter Journalism
Winner: Kevin Thompson, Cal-OSHA Reporter
“Wal-Mart Tagged Over Needle Sticks”
The Cal-OSHA Reporter, under editor Kevin Thompson, serves its health and safety community readership through relevant and important reporting on labor and workplace issues in California.
As one of the state’s largest employers, Wal-Mart is a natural area of interest. When the retailer was hit with numerous citations for violations of blood-borne pathogens standards, one theory for such violations was the price-tagging guns shared by employees. The guns contain hollow-bore needles that pricked employees and possibly facilitated cross contamination as employees shared guns.
In 2008, the Cal-OSHA Reporter found out that a Wal-Mart employee had been diagnosed with hepatitis B. The physician notified the state Department of Public Health, which then notified the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Even though DOSH couldn’t reveal any details of its investigation, the Cal-OSHA Reporter kept track of the evolving situation until DOSH issued its citations.
From Cal-OSHA’s report:
The public health officer who conducted the initial investigation of the illness narrowed down the most likely cause of infection sources as the use of tagging guns and a dental office that the worker had visited. But the officer concluded that the dental office was not the likely source of infection. The tagging guns have not been identified as the source, either, but have not been ruled out …
Judges called the investigation “thoroughly researched and compelling” and a “story that many consumers could relate to.”
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