Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigates UPD rodent issue

An investigation into a rodent infestation in the Woodhull House is ongoing, an official from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said, adding that the investigation into the incident will likely be completed in the next few weeks.

Administration officials inspected the University Police Department’s headquarters at 2033 G St. last Thursday, after receiving multiple complaints about a rodent infestation in the 150-year-old building.

Michael Walterschied, area director of OSHA’s D.C. and Baltimore office, said Monday he didn’t know the results of the inspection.

“I haven’t seen anything come across my desk,” he said, adding that if any citations were to be issued, he would be involved.

Walterschied said the investigation is not closed, and could take a few weeks to be completed.

University Police Chief Kevin Hay said the Woodhull House was inspected following maintenance by Facilities Services to remove rats from the building, and that an OSHA official said no citations would be issued. A citation from OSHA could result in fines, depending on the severity of the situation.

If there is substantial probability that “death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known,” a serious citation would be issued, according to information on OSHA’s website.

Any non-serious violations refer to those that have “a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm,” according to OSHA.

“They found our abatement plan to be effective, hence we were told no citations would be issued,” Hay said Friday.

Hay said Monday he doesn’t expect further inspections from OSHA.

“[The OSHA inspector] said he would come back only if he received a new complaint,” Hay said, noting the inspector would have to return by law if a complaint was filed. “He was satisfied with what he saw Thursday.”

Last week, Facilities Services workers took down a wall to reach an area that needed rodent abatement. Areas around Woodhull House were also sealed off to prevent more rodents from moving in.

“It was a small hole where the pipes came into the building that was the pathway [of the rodents]. It has been sealed with concrete,” Hay said.

Problems with mice and, later, rats, arose a few months ago, according to a UPD officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

The officer said last week rodents were seen in Woodhull House following demolition of buildings across the street in preparation for the Law Learning Center Garage.

“Some have a theory that our problem began when buildings across the street were demolished,” Hay said.

Odor due to the infestation was also a concern for employees, the officer said.

Hay said air monitoring of the building occurred last Wednesday and Thursday, but resulted in no negative findings.

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