March 16, 2020

OSHA Compliance in 2019: Setting Expectations

Nurture a Workplace Environment of Safety and Compliance

Although complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules and regulations is something that every health care organization acknowledges as important, compliance efforts may not always stay top of mind amid other priorities. The start of a new year presents an ideal opportunity to reacquaint staff with OSHA’s mission and regulations to foster an atmosphere of safety and compliance for the months ahead. Here are some key points to keep in mind during this review.

Why Is OSHA Compliance Important?

Simply put, OSHA holds employers responsible for keeping their workers safe. When organizations are compliant with OSHA, they are able to provide more consistent staff and patient safety, higher employee morale and retention, and enhanced patient satisfaction and quality care. The agency’s rules and regulations apply to a variety of settings, and while there are general requirements that pertain to multiple industries, such as proper labeling and more, some aspects relate primarily to health care facilities and employers. Understanding these specific regulations, such as preventing the spread of bloodborne pathogens, is paramount.

OSHA Compliance Efforts Should Be Active Not Passive

Although health care organizations are ultimately accountable for ensuring proper workplace conditions, employees have responsibilities toward compliance as well. They should stay alert to any health and safety postings, follow safe work practices, be on the lookout for potential hazards, promptly report issues according to protocol, and participate in OSHA reviews and inspections, among other things. Organizations should be sure to educate workers on their rights and responsibilities, so they are clear about what to expect from the organization and what role they should play in preserving safety.

The Rules Continue to Evolve

OSHA requirements are dynamic as they aim to meet changing environmental, scientific and safety standards and recommendations. For example, in 2019, OSHA intends to update its Hazard Communication Standard (HazCom or HCS) to incorporate the United Nation’s GHS Revision 7. The agency has indicated it could release proposed rule changes as early as February. Organizations should watch for further details to make sure they are prepared to modify their policies and procedures accordingly.

Health Care Organizations Can Strengthen Efforts with an Expert Partner

Although OSHA can be challenging for any size organization, the best way to stay ahead is to maintain continuous compliance. By working with a strategic partner that has deep experience with the rules and regulations, you can be confident that your organization’s compliance approach is on track for the year ahead. At Stericycle, we provide comprehensive resources, including training and assessment support, to ensure organizations are fully prepared to foster a safe and healthful environment—now and in the future.

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