OSHA binder

June 21, 2019

Understanding and Addressing Common OSHA Violations

Getting a Handle on OSHA Compliance

Preserving the safety of staff and patients must remain a top priority for all health care organizations, regardless of size or type. One critical step in the process involves complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulatory requirements. In health care’s often hectic and complex workplace environment focused on patient care, hospitals, health systems and other medical practices sometimes miss the mark with the added complexity of OSHA standards. This could create workplace safety risks or workplace hazards that could result in violations, impacting an organization’s finance and reputation.

3 Most Common OSHA Violations

Taking a proactive approach to OSHA compliance—and learning from others’ mistakes—can help ensure your organization is prepared for long-term success. Here are three common OSHA compliance shortfalls that health care organizations should avoid to reliably maintain compliance.

1. An Outdated Hazard Communication Program

OSHA requires a written Hazard Communication Program that outlines how an organization informs staff about hazardous chemicals in the workplace, including what information needs to be communicated, when and to whom. Key components of the Standard involve proper hazardous chemical labeling, the use of Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and employee training.

As one of the most frequently cited rules in health care, it’s essential that organizations consistently keep their hazard communication up-to-date, especially as the requirements do sometimes change over time. To stay on top of requirements, health care organizations should review their program regularly.

2. Lack of a Complete Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) Exposure Control Plan

The transmission of pathogens through blood or other bodily fluids is a potential worker safety risk for health care organizations. OSHA requires facilities with the potential for BBP exposure have a thorough plan that outlines BBP risks, prevention strategies and response plans should a worker be exposed. A facility’s written Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan is required to be reviewed and updated by organizations annually to ensure both workplace safety and compliance. As with the Hazard Communication Standard, the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard is also one of OSHA’s most-frequently-cited Standards for violations in health care workplaces.

3. Overlooked State Requirements

With OSHA requirements at either the federal or the state levels, depending on the pertinent authority for your particular location, it’s important for health care organizations to understand and pay close attention to the various rules and regulations that apply to them. While federal requirements may be more frequently met by organizations, state requirements could be different and involve other elements than the federal ones. As such, it’s a good rule of thumb to comply with the most stringent requirements, whether they come from federal, state or local agencies.

Avoid Common Mistakes with an Outside Resource

To reduce the likelihood of missteps concerning OSHA compliance, it can be beneficial to work with a knowledgeable compliance expert like Stericycle. From practical tools for creating comprehensive and compliant OSHA policies, to easily accessible online training modules, and expertise in identifying the rules that apply to your facility, we can help guide your efforts to support a safe, healthful and compliant working environment. For more information on how Stericycle can help you create a safer health care workplace, watch this informative video.

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