The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has declared a new and stern enforcement policy concerning the healthcare industry that promises to inspect the common hazards.
The new enforcement policy promises that OSHA will monitor closely compliance with health and safety rules relating to trips, slips, falls, bloodborne pathogens, safe patient handling, workplace violence and tuberculosis. OSHA has also stated its interest in exposure to hazardous chemicals like hazardous drugs, sanitizers, anesthetic gases and disinfectants; it also has interest in exposure to multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs), such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
During an inspection, OSHA will now use that opportunity to examine the facility's compliance in each of these areas, even if the inspection had started for an unrelated reason. It anticipates getting access to the medical records of employees and based on what it finds in illness and injury records, it will interview employees for confirmation. Since these hazards are common in the industry and the policy, in essence, broadens the scope of each healthcare facility inspection, we anticipate lengthier, broader, and more exacting inspections are likely to result — with the possibility that more citations and proposed penalties will be issued to employers in the industry.
In order to prepare properly for responding to the OSHA's latest inspection process, employers in the industry should consider training important personnel on the strategies that can be used to manage OSHA inspections, right from the start when OSHA reach the site, in order to curtail potential liabilities and to supervise the requests by OSHA for site inspections, employee interviews, documents etc. Employers should review or develop a workplace violence prevention plan of the company and start the procedure of including the main components, while considering whether any additional controls are required to safeguard the workers. They should also have an internal audit of the bloodborne pathogens exposure control program, including the access to Hepatitis B vaccinations and the annual review of safety devices. Also, they need to review or develop the company's ergonomics procedures and policies on the manual lifting of patients and the maintenance, availability and use of reposition and lifting devices.
You should make sure that the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on tuberculosis prevention is being followed by the company and ensure that there is awareness among the employees regarding the hazards related with the chemicals that they are working with, and that they have access to safety data sheets and know how to read labels. Develop or review the company's infectious diseases and MRSA prevention programs for effectiveness, paying special attention to whether employees know how to protect themselves from exposures to these hazards and wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
Join this session by our expert speaker Nickole Winnett, Esq. to discuss this and more and be ready when OSHA shows up
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Nickole Winnett Esq.
Nickole Winnett is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and is a member of the Employment Litigation practice group and the Workplace Safety and Health practice group. Ms. Winnett is a contributing author on Jackson Lewis' website, an editor of Jackson Lewis' OSHA Law Blog, and is a f... More info