Federal regulators on Thursday cited four Veterans Affairs facilities in Northern California for unsafe and unhealthful working conditions, including clinics in Martinez, Oakland and Fairfield.

Safety hazards were also identified at the VA hospital in Mather.

Problems labeled serious by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration included blocked emergency exit doors and routes, electrical hazards and exposure to contaminated needles.

Mather hospital was cited for a repeat violation involving improper storage of biological hazardous waste. It received a similar notice in 2007.

All told, inspectors found 25 violations at the four facilities that they said were serious risks which could cause physical harm.

"The safety hazards identified at these four clinics demonstrate a need for a renewed commitment by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a safe workplace for the VA employees who care for our nation's wounded and aging soldiers," said David Shiraishi, director of OSHA's Oakland office, in a written statement.

VA leaders could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

OSHA does not have the power to impose financial penalties against another federal agency. But the VA will have 15 business days to correct the problems, request a conference with OSHA supervisors or appeal.

At the Martinez clinic, inspectors found biohazardous waste bags overflowing from garbage barrels and a container so full of contaminated needles that it could not be closed. These problems were immediately corrected, documents state.


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The Martinez clinic also had exposed electrical wires in several locations and an exit door blocked by a large garbage bin.

At the Oakland clinic, inspectors found an exit door with a broken handle and a fire door that could not be opened.

Sandy Kleffman covers health. Contact her at 925-943-8249. Follow her at Twitter.com/skleffman.