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OSHA Issues New Guidance for Healthcare Entities

7/10/2015

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”), 2013 statistics demonstrate that healthcare workers have a rate of work-related illness and injury that is nearly twice as high as the overall rate seen in private industry.1 In the last five years, OSHA has issued a number of guidance documents on topics ranging from prevention of workplace violence against healthcare workers to safer patient handling methods intended to protect both patients and healthcare workers. Now, OSHA has issued Inspection Guidance for inspections to be conducted in inpatient healthcare settings with North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Major Group codes 622 (hospitals) and 623 (nursing and residential care facilities).

All inspections of hospitals, nursing facilities, and residential care facilities conducted after June 25, 2015, will include inspections related to the following hazards, in addition to whatever triggered the inspection in the first place:

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) related to patient or resident handling;
  • Workplace Violence:
  • Bloodborne Pathogens:
  • Tuberculosis; and
  • Slips, trips, and falls.

In addition to these hazards, OSHA inspections of affected healthcare facilities may also include inspections to ascertain whether there is any exposure to multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs), such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and to hazardous chemicals, such as sanitizers, disinfectants, anesthetic gases, and hazardous drugs.

Compliance officers (CSHOs) are encouraged to contact the Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management’s Office of Occupational Medicine and Nursing (OOMN) to obtain a Medical Access Order, if necessary, early in the inspection process. Medical Access Orders allow CSHOs to access personally identifiable employee medical information and then to interview employees to verify injury and illness records are accurate and truthful.

OSHA’s inspection guidance includes a multi-step process for determining whether each inspected employer has an adequate procedure in place to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and will issue “ergonomic hazard alert letters” to employers deemed to be deficient in this area. After the ergonomic hazard alert letter is issued, CSHOs will follow-up to ensure that an ergonomics program is in place and/or is properly implemented.

Resources:

  • A “suite” of guidance products is available here.
  • Additional information pertaining to nursing home and care facilities is available here.
  • Additional information pertaining to healthcare facilities is available here.
  • OSHA’s brochure “Safe Patient Handling: Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders in Nursing Homes” is available here.


1OSHA claims the rate of work-related illness and injury in healthcare was 6.4 incidents per 100 employees in 2013.