OSHA Compliance

by  Wyn Staheli, Director of Research
January 23rd, 2017

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.

While generally associated with industrial facilities or construction sites, OSHA rules apply in healthcare practices as well. If you have one employee, then you must have an OSHA plan in place. Some have tried to skirt the law by saying that independent contractors are not employees. As far as OSHA is concerned, if they work in your office, they are considered an employee, no matter what title they are given.

Like HIPAA rules, OSHA federal requirements are the minimum standard. When this article was written, there were 26 states (and 2 territories) with their own OSHA plans which may be different than federal rules. Be aware of your individual state requirements.

Quite often, an OSHA inspection begins with a complaint from either an employee or a patient. Your office will then be given an on-site visit. To help you avoid being blindsided by these on-site visits, it is important to understand these requirements.

How to Begin

Be aware that there are entire books on the subject of OSHA and how to fully and properly meet OSHA requirements.

The information presented here is only a beginning point. OSHA recommends taking the following steps in your compliance program:

    1. Learn which OSHA standards/requirements apply to health care.
    2. Identify hazards at your facility and learn how to minimize the risks for those hazards.
    3. Develop a comprehensive safety and health program.
    4. Train your employees on safety.
    5. Establish procedures for recordkeeping, reporting, and posting.

Tip: If an illness or injury happens to a temporary employee – including those from a staffing agency, in most cases, the reporting entity is NOT the staffing agency - it is the office where the event occurred.

Start by creating your own “OSHA Compliance Manual” in order to document your compliance steps. At a minimum, include sections on:

OSHA offers many free resources on their website including a “Compliance Assistant Quick Start” for the healthcare industry. These resources can assist providers who are setting up a compliance program on their own. On-site consultations to identify hazards and provide advice for small businesses may also be available in your area.

For those who desire professional assistance, there are compliance specialists who can come to your office and set up your program. There are also commercial products available to assist in the creation of a personalized OSHA Compliance Manual.

Quick Tips

Practices are responsible for learning and implementing all pertinent OSHA requirements. Although NOT a comprehensive checklist, here are some quick steps you can take to get started with an OSHA compliance plan. At a minimum, be sure to document these steps in your OSHA Compliance Manual.

 

References:

OSHA Compliance. (2017, January 23). Find-A-Code Articles. Retrieved from https://www.findacode.com/articles/osha-compliance-30246.html

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