April 13, 2010 | | Comments 0
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DNV rep discusses surveyor approach to Crocs shoes

Yesterday I was talking to Randy Snelling, CPEO, chief physical environment officer at DNV Healthcare, which accredits hospitals using a combination of CMS’ Conditions of Participation and ISO 9001 quality management.

Snelling mentioned Crocs, which have gotten a fair amount of attention over the years because of a debate on whether these shoes — which are essentially rubber clogs with holes in them — are appropriate in healthcare settings.

When DNV surveyors see Crocs, they write them up as a citation, Snelling says. He feels with their holes, Crocs do not protect a worker’s feet against sharps injuries from falling needles or exposures from spills.

In an online posting from August 2006, OSHA took an informal position that Crocs aren’t appropriate in a hospital setting if there is a reasonable expectation that blood or other potentially infectious materials could land on an employee’s feet.

However, OSHA also informally indicated that it’s the hospital’s responsibility to:

  • Ascertain whether there is reasonable likelihood of exposure to blood or other fluids
  • Determine what constitutes appropriate footwear in the absence of exposure to any recognized hazards

In other words, employees could wear Crocs in areas of a hospital if the facility determines that these employees don’t face exposures on the job to blood and other bodily fluids.

The OSHA posting isn’t official, nor is it a letter of interpretation. DNV’s stance seems more concrete. The Joint Commission hasn’t formally taken a position on Crocs, but the matter could fall under safety risk assessments (EC.02.01.01) or the infection control chapter. If a hospital allows staff to wear Crocs, Joint Commission surveyors will look to the hospital to defend its choice with solid risk assessment data.

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Scott Wallask About the Author: Scott Wallask is senior managing editor for HCPro's Hospital Safety Center (www.hospitalsafetycenter.com) and the award-winning newsletters, Briefings on Hospital Safety and Healthcare Life Safety Compliance. He has written about healthcare for HCPro since 1998, with a focus on occupational and building safety, emergency management, fire protection, and infection control. Prior to joining HCPro, he worked as a reporter for several newspapers in eastern Massachusetts. He holds a BA in print journalism, magna cum laude, from Northeastern University in Boston. Contact Scott at swallask@hcpro.com.

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