Home Health Hazards

Home Health Hazards

By Heather Holt Totty

Osha_big_fnYou have the right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was enacted to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work.

If you think your job is unsafe and you want to ask for an inspection, please fill out the form below.

Describe briefly the hazards(s) you believe exist:

I am writing to request an inspection of my work conditions. In reviewing your standards, it has become abundantly obvious that my work environment poses a significant health hazard on a daily basis. Here are a few of the standards that are being violated:

1910.22 – Housekeeping

This standard states that all work places “shall be kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.” There is nothing clean or orderly about my work environment. I am now looking into the main work space (known by some as the “living room”) and can see no more than three, one-foot-square patches of carpeting beneath all the strewn toys, clothes, and dissected parts of old electronic equipment. As for sanitary conditions. Well, I’m quite sure that the piece of toast that the baby just fished out from under the sofa and stuck in his mouth was from Sunday egg and toast day. Today is Thursday.

1910.34 – 1910.39 – Exit Routes for Emergencies

What exactly constitutes an emergency? My 3-year-old seems to think that running out of Goldfish Crackers is a capital offense. If we did have to get out the door in a timely manner (and this, of course, would mean at least some of us wouldn’t have our pants on), I would have to fall back on that one track meet I participated in a lifetime ago (before realizing that running, jumping, and hurtling weren’t my strengths) to navigate a path to the front door.

1910.95 – Occupational Noise Exposure Protection against the effects of noise exposure shall be provided when the sound levels exceed those shown in Table G-16.

OK, so I’m not an engineer and I don’t really understand what that table is trying to demonstrate, but I’m quite sure that the whining, screaming, and crying in my workplace reach levels that put your wimpy little line chart to shame.

1910.133 – Eye and Face Protection

This standard states I need to have protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, etc. The particles that go flying around here would astound a particle physicist. I’m talking oatmeal, applesauce with minced kale, sour milk shaken and ejected from a sippy cup dug out from under the sofa (notice a theme here?). Don’t even get me started on the recent bout with explosive diarrhea. Then, this morning, I was lying on the bed after breakfast lifting the baby up into the air, singing “Up in the Air, Junior Birdmen” (because, among my myriad duties here, one is entertainer). My mouth was gaping open as I sang the word “fly!” And, don’t you know it, that’s when the baby decided to lose his breakfast. In my mouth. And I swallowed. I’m here to tell you that regurgitated oatmeal, yogurt, and banana mush doesn’t taste half as good as you might think.

1910.141 – Toilet Facilities

While there is a bathroom on the premises, I don’t believe the spirit of the law is being honored here. For one thing, there certainly are “unreasonable restrictions” imposed on my use of the facilities. I hardly ever use the bathroom uninterrupted and am usually accompanied for my most intimate functions. Several times while working in the field, I’ve been denied use of the facilities altogether. The baby demands to be nursed, the toddler refuses to leave the playground and all the while I just have to hold it in. I confess, I’ve taken matters into my own hands on a number of occasions. Let’s just say, that portable potty in the minivan isn’t just being used by the kids.

I could go on citing the code violations but am running out of space on this form. (I hope it’s all right that I’ve written in the margins and on the back.) I understand that OSHA has neither researched nor issued standards requiring that workers be permitted lunch and rest breaks. Well, if you do get around to that, I’ll have a number of other complaints to file. I work all hours of the day and am frequently woken up in the middle of the night. Lunch (as well as breakfast and dinner) is usually eaten standing up, or at the very least with someone crawling all over me.

Oh, and did I mention that I don’t get paid? Please dispatch an inspector ASAP. This place is run by tyrants!

Heather Holt Totty is a freelance writer who likes to craft anything from grant applications to magazine articles to children’s stories. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two young sons. She can be found online at www.heathertotty.com.


Brain, Child (Summer 2013)

Photo Credit: https://wiki.vpa.mtu.edu