Top safety myths – and the truth

By: June 30th, 2014 Email This Post Print This Post

Hi folks –

It’s that time of month when I’m finalizing stories for Medical Environment Update, and I thought I’d share a snippet of what I am writing for the August issue. Our safety experts shared with us some of the most common safety misconceptions, and the truth behind them:

Healthcare air is squeaky clean – With so many engineering standards out there requiring different levels of air exchanges and airborne infectious diseases, it would be easy to assume that air quality in healthcare offices are among the cleanest you can find, right?

You’d be surprised how wrong you’d be, say some experts, who say great air quality in healthcare is somewhat of a myth, especially in small clinics in older buildings that might not have updated filtration systems.

“Air quality is a nightmare for safety people, because people expect that air inside a building is sterile, and that it is being filtered out,” says Bruce Cunha, RN, MS, COHNS, manager of employee health safety, Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, WI. “They do a good job, but you have doors opening, and people walking in and out every day. You’re never going to have the environment that people say they want.”

I use those cleaning supplies at home, so they’re safe – There are so many kinds of cleaning materials that we bring into our homes, and something like bleach is considered a common staple of household cleaning. Yet, in the medical world, they are considered hazardous chemicals. What does that mean for you? Make sure you have the proper PPE to handle them, make sure your staff is trained, and for hazardous chemical in your facility, you better know where that all-important SDS sheet is.

OSHA won’t come here – Even the most seasoned veteran safety officials who have never experienced an OSHA inspection in their many years on the job keep in the back of their heads that an inspector could walk in at any time.

Even if you don’t have a complaint lodged against you, OSHA can be sneaky. An inspector could be keeping an eye on our facility for safety violations if he happens to be on site for one of many other reasons.

“They have probably been to your facility more than you think,” said Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, Laboratory Safety Officer for Sentara Healthcare, a multi-hospital system in the Tidewater region of Virginia. “If an inspector goes there to look at a construction site or worker injury – someone who cut their finger off or something – you’re not going to know that if you are working in the lab. They could take a look at worker records, etc., and you may not even know they are in the building. All it takes is one little trail that leads into the lab.”


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