5 Questions about OSHA Compliance – Employee Safety -Workplace Violence
What does “Standard Precautions” refer to, and why is it important to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in a clinical environment?
“Standard precautions” describes a comprehensive approach to infection control that treats all human blood and certain human body fluids as if they were known to be infectious for HIV, HBV and other bloodborne pathogens.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) creates a barrier between the skin and these potentially infectious materials. PPE also protects healthcare workers from the chemicals that are used to sterilize and clean surfaces and equipment. Typical PPE might comprise a face shield, a face mask, eye protection, ear protection, medical gloves, and a medical gown.
It’s also important to note that there can be significant health and safety hazards associated with the products being used for disinfection. Be sure to READ THE LABEL and utilize PPE recommended by the manufacturer. Also be sure to READ THE LABEL of the sterilization product to be aware of the contact time required to effectively kill pathogens.
Are Safety Data Sheets required in a healthcare environment for OSHA Compliance?
The Hazard Communication Standard requires that chemical manufacturers, distributors or importers provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for each hazardous chemical to communicate the appropriate information to the user.
The SDS includes information such as the properties of each chemical; the physical, health, and environmental health hazards; protective measures; and safety precautions for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical.
For any gels, sprays, foams and liquids that contain a mixture of chemicals, a SDS is required to be maintained in an organized fashion with an appropriate Table of Contents (TOC) and that SDS manual needs to be available for all workforce members. The SDS manual should be reviewed annually for accuracy.
What are the requirements for OSHA Compliance related to eyewash stations, first-aid kits and spill kits?
OSHA requires that all businesses, regardless of industry, provide a first aid kit to its workforce members. It must be in a sealed container and properly labeled with an adequate amount of contents to provide basic triage for minor injuries. Additionally, if there is reasonable chance of an eye injury or if chemicals are kept on site, the business is required to have an eyewash station and spill kit available. Eyewash stations require a weekly inspection that should be documented. First aid kits and spills kits should be inspected monthly to ensure that their contents are adequately intact.
What are the OSHA requirements for keeping workforce members safe from needlesticks?
OSHA established the Needlestick Safety & Prevention Act to minimize the occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens from accidental sharps injuries in healthcare.
This modified OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard requires employers to identify, evaluate and implement safer medical devices such as needleless systems and sharps with engineered sharps protections.
This standard applies to all employers with workforce members who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), no matter how many workforce members. It also requires annual consideration and implementation of suitable and safer medical devices designed to eliminate or minimize occupational exposure.
Does OSHA have standards for workplace violence?
OSHA does not have a detailed standard for workplace violence, but to re-emphasize a portion of the General Duty Clause from above, regarding “hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees,” OSHA recommends that employers develop a comprehensive workplace violence program.
Healthcare workers are the most susceptible occupation to workplace violence and your workforce members need to be prepared to protect themselves. Employers who do not take reasonable steps to prevent or abate a recognized violence hazard in the workplace can be cited.
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