By Lynn Whitbeck, Dorn Companies
OSHA has been carefully scrutinizing the healthcare industry. On June 25, 2015, OSHA officially introduced a new compliance guideline for the inpatient healthcare and nursing home industries by announcing the details of the agency’s new healthcare enforcement initiative in a memorandum from Dorothy Dougherty, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, to OSHA Regional Administrators and State Plans. The memorandum is entitled “Inspection Guidance for Inpatient Healthcare Settings” (“guidance memo”).
The guidance memo requires both federal OSHA Regional Offices and State Plans to evaluate the number of work-related injuries and illnesses at inpatient healthcare and nursing home facilities in their areas and to target those facilities for inspections. Compliance officers are instructed to focus on five major hazards:
- Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) relating to patient or resident handling
- Workplace violence
- Bloodborne pathogens
- Slips, trips, and falls
OSHA also reminded compliance officers that they can and should expand the scope of the inspection when additional hazards come to their attention during the inspection. Compliance officers are urged to rely upon the general duty clause, which enables OSHA to issue citations whenever it finds that an employer has failed to provide safe work and a safe work environment for its employees. The agency included sample general duty clause citation language in the guidance memo that compliance officers may reference in issuing citations related to MRSA, MSDs, workplace violence, and other unregulated hazards that they may identify in the workplace.
Virtually any type of healthcare or nursing care facility that provides residential or inpatient services may be subject to an OSHA inspection—particularly if the employer has a high rate of work-related injuries and illnesses. Strategic planning is essential to successfully navigating any OSHA inspection. DORN can help you identify and resolve gaps in your early intervention and prevention activities of your health and safety programs. Working with DORN provides the benefit of reducing workers’ compensation claims. DORN clients experience an enormous drop in workers’ compensation costs. Demonstrate your commitment to employee health and safety by contacting DORN today.