No matter the size, your healthcare facility should look to the risk assessment to drive your safety policies and procedures. That advice is the feature topic in the August issue of Medical Environment Update . The article covers:
- Where to begin with risk assessments
- Parameters to consider
- The importance of documenting your assessment
- Determining hazard severity
- Job Function Risk Assessment Sample Form (Download it and other risk assessment documents from the OSHA Healthcare Advisor Tools page .)
Here is an excerpt from that article and a look at what else is covered in the August issue.
Do a risk assessment. That’s the answer most frequently heard in response to most questions regarding safety or infection control.
But once you know the basics of a risk assessment, the rest follows easily, and the same procedure can be repeated with varying considerations, so you’ll be able to determine the severity of risks present in every part of your facility and simultaneously adhere to the standards that apply to your facility.
The risk assessment is a simple but effective tool to evaluate any number of risks from worker protection, facility design requirements, or patient safety.
But for whatever reason, the risk assessment elicits panic and fear for safety officers or facility directors who may not be familiar with the process, the documentation, or the analysis of risks.
“When they have some sort of situation or issue and I tell them they need to do a risk assessment, and the dread that comes over their face, you almost swear I was killing their first-born kid,” says Earl Williams, HSP- M, safety specialist at BroMenn Healthcare in Normal, IL. “And oftentimes, they don’t seem to understand the difference between a risk assessment and a risk analysis.”
Although the assessment itself is a strong, reliable tool, Williams says it’s one area of healthcare that is weak in the sense that some facilities do not use it appropriately, if at all.
Also, see the Web-exclusive post, “OSHA explains what’s behind the push for an infectious diseases standard .”
The Medical Environment Update  August issue also includes:
- Draft guidelines to ease up on N95 use
- Antimicrobial exposures in healthcare
- Computer vision checklist
- An infection control tip on spiking IV bags 
- Ask the expert Q&As on on-site laundering, reporting defective sharps containers , and whether having fewer than 10 employees eliminates OSHA compliance 
- A quiz designed to test your understanding of OSHA standards  and government regulatory guidelines that apply to healthcare facilities