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Report details Capitol ADA, OSHA problems

Oct. 18, 2012 at 11:44 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Sidewalks outside all three U.S. House office buildings aren't in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal agency report indicated.

Office of Compliance Board Chairwoman Barbara Camens said this year's report, released Thursday, drew attention to some of the office's ADA work, including details about access barriers found during inspections of the sidewalks surrounding House office buildings.

"By providing information to Congress and the Architect of the Capitol about the nature and location of the access barriers, and how to remove them, we hope to improve the safety of exterior pathways for people with disabilities," she said in remarks included with the report.

Lack of funding has forced the office to eliminate education and training programs that may have otherwise prevented discrimination and harassment cases from occurring, said Executive Director Tamara Chrisler in remarks included with the 74-page report.

"Another initiative that has suffered the impact of budget cuts is our wall-to-wall safety and health inspections of the Capitol campus," she said. "The OOC has focused our limited resources from wall-to-wall inspections to risk-based inspections of safety and health hazards that could pose the most harm to occupants of legislative branch facilities."

The Office of Compliance said it found 154 access barriers for individuals with disabilities on sidewalks surrounding the three House office buildings, noting that 93 percent of the 30 curb ramps meant to help wheelchair-bound people move between streets and sidewalks were out of compliance.

"Current budget realities for the OOC will significantly delay or limit future ADA inspections of entrances, doors and interior building pathways on the Capitol campus," the report said.

The report also said a random inspection of six restrooms in Senate and House buildings found none of the restrooms met ADA standards

Concerning health and safety issues outlined in Occupational Safety and Health Act, the report said substantial progress has been made on abatement of serious fire safety hazards in House buildings, but "serious concerns" remain about correcting fire safety hazards in the Russell Office building.

Among its recommendations, the report repeated its recommendation the legislative branch be subject to the investigatory subpoena provisions as private industry is so health and safety protections "can be enforced as efficiently and effectively as possible."

Among other things, the report also recommended legislative branch employees be protected from retaliation for reporting violations.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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