16 January 2018

Is your OSHA compliance in check? Let the top 2017 violations guide your preparation efforts this year

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to take a closer look at improvement opportunities to ensure success in the year ahead. For healthcare organizations, what better time than now to examine your OSHA compliance?

Although healthcare organizations have had to comply with OSHA Standards since 1971, it can be hard for many to meet their broad and complex requirements. With potentially hefty fines for violations — not to mention reputational repercussions — organizations must be proactive. This means doing a comprehensive review of compliance efforts at least annually.

As you think about your compliance strategies this year, it may be helpful to learn from others’ mistakes. For example, among the top 10 OSHA violations from 2017, a few are particularly relevant to healthcare and should be top-of-mind for you to ensure a compliant year ahead:
• Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. As the most frequently cited Standard, healthcare organizations should closely monitor this as part of their compliance review. This rule prescribes safeguards to protect workers against the health hazards caused by bloodborne pathogens. While not cited as a top 2017 OSHA violation, it’s important to pay attention to this key regulation as you head into the New Year.

• Hazard Communication Standard. This is another one of the most frequently cited rules for healthcare organizations. The Hazard Communication Standard requires employers of all sizes to develop, implement and maintain a written hazard communication program covering how they notify employees about hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Per this Standard, manufacturers must properly label chemicals, including using correct verbiage and pictograms. Ensure your organization closely follows specific rules regarding safety data sheets, such as ensuring the proper format, storage and that they are readily accessible in the work area. Additionally, it’s critical to not overlook staff training and the various program elements during training sessions.

• Respiratory Protection Standard. This rule dictates, when respiratory protection is required, that providers establish and sustain a written respiratory protection program that outlines when and how staff should use respirators. Also keep in mind your organization must provide respiratory protection training initially and annually to medically evaluate staff that will use respirators and to fit test respirators prior to use.

Like many other regulations, OSHA Standards are constantly evolving. To avoid potential violations that can put your organization’s financial security and reputation at risk, it is critical to annually review your comprehensive OSHA compliance programs. Stericycle stands ready to help. For more information, call 855-602-6279.

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