Can my Employer make me handle biohazard material?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my Employer make me handle biohazard material?

I work as a Janitor for a Nursing Home. Recently my
employer decided that the transport and temporary
storage of biohazard material should be handled by
Janitorial instead of Nursing. This was not one of
our duties before now. Myself and my coworkers are
very uncomfortable with this. Can the company
compel us to do this? I myself have not received
training on the proper handling of biohazard material,
and those that had the training say that it was a joke.
At the very least we want to be properly trained and
paid for increasing the hazards we have to deal with.

Asked on October 22, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Assuming there are no violations of OHSA or other relevant regulations, the employer may do this: the employer may change job duties and have janitors, instead of nurses, take on this responsibility. But the employer must obey OHSA regulations about such materials, and you are encouraged to contact OHSA and find out what the regulations are about this specific situation. You should also call the state agency licensing nursing homes and see if they have any regulations covering the subject. And call your municipal and/or county board or department of health, which may have its own regulations for disposal of such materials. One or all of these agencies may be able to help you.
If the employer is not barred by any regulations from doing this, then they can, as stated, make it your responsibility. They do not need to offer you any additional pay for doing this--the employer decides how much to pay you for doing your job, and what your job consists of. 
If you are harmed in any way by a lack of training, safety or protective equipment, etc. you should be able to sue for your injuries, medical costs, lost wages, etc.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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