Author Archive for: Jaclyn Beck

Ask the expert: Training for an electronic MSDS system

October 22nd, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: We use an electronic MSDS access system. Are there any special training requirements we need to know about?

A: The most important training requirement beyond those listed in the standard would be teaching staff members how to use the electronic system to access the required information (how to launch the program, any login requirements (e.g. a password), how to navigate the system to find the desired document, etc.) According to OSHA Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200), MSDSs must be “readily available,” so I wouldn’t be surprised if an OSHA inspector asked one of your staff members to demonstrate the use of the system. Another aspect you’ll need to include is how to get an MSDS in the event of an electronic system failure, such as a power outage. Is there a backup generator to power computers on the system? Is the information available by phone? Are there (current) paper copies of the MSDSs somewhere in the office?

*This is an excerpt from The OSHA Training Handbook for Healthcare Facilities by Sarah E. Alholm, MAS.

Ask the expert: Recapping fill needles

September 17th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: What guidance does OSHA give on recapping fill needles?

A: OSHA is pretty blunt about recapping needles – they don’t recommend it!

Let me address the recapping of needles into categories:

A)     Contaminated needles

The Bloodborne Pathogens standard section (d)(2)(vii): “Contaminated needles and other contaminated sharps shall not be bent, recapped, or removed…”  The violation of the OSHA standard could not only injure staff members but also cost it as much as $7,000 as a serious fine, as classified by OSHA.  If an employer continues this practice, it could become a willful fine, which ups the ante to $70,000.

B)     Non-contaminated Needles

The standard strictly prohibits bending, recapping, or removal of contaminated sharps unless the employer can demonstrate that no alternative is feasible or that such action is required by a specific medical or dental procedure. [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(2)(vii)(A)] The standard does not focus on the recapping of non-contaminated needles.  However, the health and safety of both the clinician and the patient are important. It would be important not to recap the needle and risk the health care worker being contaminated with the medication that is in the fill syringe. It is equally as important not to contaminate the needle with the healthcare worker’s skin, because this would provide risk to the patient.

The standard requires each employer to establish an exposure control plan “designed to eliminate or minimize employee exposure.” If the medical practices require recapping or removal of sharps or if no alternative, such as immediate discarding into an approved sharps container, is feasible, the exposure control plan must include a provision for the use of mechanical devices in these circumstances. Although OSHA cannot, of course, approve or endorse particular products, there are a number of acceptable mechanical recapping devices.

Editor’s note: This Q&A was answered by Ron Stoker, executive director of the International Sharps Injury Prevention Society (ISIPS), Harriman, UT.

Give us a sign!

January 20th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is an excerpt from the Complete Guide to Laboratory Safety, Third Edition, by Terry Jo Gile. To purchase this book, click here.

It’s important to clearly identify hazardous areas in in the lab with signs and physical barriers. The LSO, along with the facility’s overall management, should review and update the hazard identification system annually to ensure that it fully reflects the hazards known to be present. OSHA’s specifications for signage is contained in the HCS (29 CFR 1910.1200).

Standard signs for a laboratory include those for radioactivity hazards, biological hazards, and fire hazards. Additional signs must mark the locations of eyewash stations, safety showers, chemical spill kits, fire extinguishers, and exits. It is assumed these are permanent placements for these signs. However, on occasion, you will need to use a temporary sign when a hazard exists for a short period, such as when fume hoods or biosafety cabinets undergo inspection for certification and when formaldehyde is being used for cleaning. Once the risk has been eliminated, remove the temporary signs. Other guidelines include the following:

Standard facility safety signage. OSHA requires that some signs be color-coded:

  • Danger signs must must red, black, and white
  • Caution signs should be yellow and black
  • Safety instruction signs, such as those used to call attention to eyewashes and showers, should be green and white

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Don’t shoot the care provider; make hospitals safer for workers

September 30th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Following a wealth of discussion on the John Hopkins Hospital shooting that took place a few weeks ago, The Baltimore Sun reports that according to a federal lab report, healthcare workers are four times as likely as the average American worker to encounter violence on the job. The risk is higher for those working in psychiatric or emergency units.

The article suggests that patient safety is directly linked to staff safety, and that workplace violence in hospitals is an “epidemic” that needs to be recognized by the public and remedied. The Baltimore Sun informs that healthcare workers are not only threatened by guns being brought into the facility (much of the discussion surrounding the shooting was focused on the need for metal detectors), but that a majority of staff assault is by patients who push, punch, scratch or choke.

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New Smartphone application promotes safe injection practices

September 29th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Epocrates, Inc. are launching Epocrates’ EssentialPoints®, a mobile detailing program that provides healthcare professionals with key lessons on safe injection practices conveniently and effectively on their smartphone devices.

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Hand hygiene survey: Patient reminders could improve worker compliance

September 22nd, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Sixty percent of healthcare workers who responded to a survey on employee hand hygiene said that patient reminders could improve hand hygiene compliance. However, nearly one-third of those same respondents also said they would not appreciate patient involvement at all.

The findings of the 10-minute survey represented the opinion of 277 randomly selected doctors and nurses, and were presented at the 50th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, which is currently underway in Boston.

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EPA wants public opinion on unused pharmaceutical disposal

September 10th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

EPA is requesting public comments on a draft guidance document titled Best Management Practices for Unused Pharmaceuticals at Health Care Facilities, for the study of unused pharmaceutical disposal at healthcare facilities.

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Researchers say, ‘Stock up!’

September 3rd, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Researchers are advising hospitals to stock up on masks, respirators, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) when a potential pandemic is anticipated.

A study conducted in three hospitals in Vancouver, Canada looked at all individuals with influenza-like illness admitted to the facilities from June 28, 2009 through December 19,2009 in an effort to explain the impact the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic had on the use of facial protective equipment (PPE).

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