Helicopter exhaust fumes result in fine for L.A. hospital

Emergency Management Alert, April 7, 2009

State health inspectors have fined a Los Angeles hospital for violating state workplace rules because of exhaust fumes from helicopters using the rooftop landing pad.

On February 19, inspectors fined Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center $560 after they confirmed employee complaints that helicopter exhaust fumes were being drawn into the building through the hospital’s ventilation system, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The hospital has appealed the fine levied by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health after a January inspection of the billion-dollar facility, the Times reported. Shortly after the hospital opened in November, helicopter fumes were a problem, initially triggering fire alarms and automatic closure of fire protection doors. Hospital workers complained of inhaling exhaust odors whenever a helicopter landed on the rooftop.

Hospitals officials have shut down the rooftop pad and diverted helicopters to a ground-based helipad, which requires ambulances to take patients to the emergency room, the newspaper said. Hospitals officials hope to re-open the rooftop landing pad after replacing improperly sealed air filters.

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