Test your safety knowledge and win $100 off HCPro products!

By: June 2nd, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

The National Safety Council, a safety advocate group that promotes safety in homes, workplaces, and communities across the country, has designated the month of June as National Safety Month. Specifically, the group has dedicated Safety Month 2016 to several safety subjects relevant to healthcare, including emergency planning and response in the workplace, medication safety, worker wellness and health, and reducing hazards in the workplace such as distractions and improperly secured furniture that can lead to falls and other injuries.

We’re celebrating Safety Month by offering giveaways, raffles, and discounts on all your favorite safety products. Win a $100 gift certificate good for any Safety product on the HCPro Marketplace by answering the following five trivia questions correctly.

Send your responses to Managing Editor John Palmer at jpalmer@hcpro.com by Friday, July 1. Winners will be chosen randomly from the responses received.

  1. List three injury reporting requirements, according to OSHA’s website.
  2. Name two things OSHA says employers must train workers required to use personal protective equipment to know.
  3. Name three components of a compliant chemical label, according to the OSHA GHS labeling requirements for hazardous materials.
  4. How many facility inspections were conducted by OSHA in 2015?
  5. Name three risk factors in healthcare facilities that can lead to workplace violence.

Take our 2016 Safety Month survey and win $100 off HCPro products!

By: May 24th, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

The National Safety Council, a safety advocate group that promotes safety in homes, workplaces, and communities across the country, has designated the month of June as National Safety Month. Specifically, the group has dedicated Safety Month 2016 to several safety subjects relevant to healthcare, including emergency planning and response in the workplace, medication safety, worker wellness and health, and reducing hazards in the workplace such as distractions and improperly secured furniture that can lead to falls and other injuries.

We’re celebrating National Safety Month this year by offering free giveaways, raffles, and discounts on all your favorite safety products.

We’d like to invite you to take a short survey that will help us know what topics are on your mind, what information you need, and what products will help you do your job better. In return for taking the survey, we’ll enter you in a random drawing for a $100 gift certificate good for any Safety product on the HCPro Marketplace.

Please click here for the survey.

CMS adopts 2012 Life Safety Code®

By: May 3rd, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

In a highly-anticipated move expected to significantly affect the regulatory rules that hospitals and other healthcare facilities are held to, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has officially adopted the 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code® (LSC).

CMS has confirmed that the final rule adopts updated provisions of the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2012 edition of the LSC as well as provisions of the NFPA’s 2012 edition of the Health Care Facilities Code.

Healthcare providers affected by this rule must comply with all regulations by July 4—60 days from the publication date of the rule in the Federal Register.

The adoption of the rule has long been anticipated, as the LSC, which governs fire safety regulations in U.S. hospitals, is updated every three years, and CMS has not formally adopted a new update since 2003, when it adopted the 2000 edition. As a result, CMS surveyors have been holding healthcare facilities to different standards to other regulatory agencies that have gradually adopted provisions of the new LSC in their survey requirements.

Some of the main changes required under the final rule include:

  • Healthcare facilities located in buildings that are taller than 75 feet are required to install automatic sprinkler systems within 12 years. after the rule’s effective date.
  • Healthcare facilities are required to have a fire watch or building evacuation if their sprinkler systems is out of service for more than 10 hours.
  • The provisions offer long-term care facilities greater flexibility in what they can place in corridors. Currently, they cannot include benches or other seating areas because of fire code requirements limiting potential barriers to firefighters. Moving forward, LTC facilities will be able to include more home-like items such as fixed seating in the corridor for resting and certain decorations in patient rooms.
  • Fireplaces will be permitted in smoke compartments without a one-hour fire wall rating, which makes a facility more home-like for residents.
  • For ASCs, alcohol-based hand rub dispensers now may be placed in corridors to allow for easier access.

Visit https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-10043.pdf to read the full final rule.

 

View the CMS press release here: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2016-Press-releases-items/2016-05-03.html

The OSHA Consequences

By: March 24th, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is a guest blog by Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, a Laboratory Safety Officer for Sentara Healthcare, a multi-hospital system in the Tidewater region of Virginia.

Many lab managers and safety professionals tell me they cannot get staff to maintain compliance with the safety basics in the lab. There tends to be several different possible reasons for this, and you may encounter one or more of these in your work area:

-No management/medical director support of the lab safety program.

-No time for leadership to focus on safety.

-No safety education for staff/leadership.

-No understanding of consequences of unsafe behaviors.

There are safety savvy solutions for each of these areas, and they vary, but today we will focus on the last entry:  No understanding of consequences of unsafe behaviors. This can be a powerful educational tool in many ways when used to improve the lab safety culture. There are physical consequences, emotional consequences, and financial consequences for unsafe behaviors in the lab. Teaching any of these is beneficial, but things have changed in 2016, and the financial consequences to labs and hospitals have increased.

The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 allowed many federal agencies to review and adjust their civil penalties once every five years. One exemption that was made at the time was that OSHA would be excluded from any penalty-adjusting authority. 25 years later, OSHA has been granted the ability to adjust its fines to match inflation rates. That means that OSHA fines could potentially increase in 2016 by up to 80%. That means a $7,000 fine goes up to $12,600, and that’s just for one violation. A “willful” violation charge will move from $70,000 to $126,000.

These rate increases must be put in place by August of this year, and they can and will affect laboratories. This is information that can be used to explain to lab staff the importance of following safety guidelines. OSHA is visiting hospitals and labs in increasing numbers, especially since hospitals have been on their “high risk workplace” list for the past few years. Because of high worker injury rates, OSHA inspectors are coming for hospital visits, even without complaints or cause. Many hospitals have already been visited and inspected this year.

This is education that needs to be explained to staff, and should be connected to the importance of safety compliance in the lab. A sharps container with no lid is a single violation with a fine of $12,600. An employee working with open specimens and no face protection is a fine of $12,600. If a review of training records shows the employee was trained on PPE use, the fine becomes categorized as “willful,” and it increases to $126,000. If multiple violations are seen, the fines are multiplied as well. This can get very expensive, and in some cases it could close the facility. If personal safety doesn’t create compliance for your staff, use these numbers. They are real, and they can be quite impactful.

The fines levied by an OSHA inspector can vary. The actual amounts are at the discretion of the individual inspector, and it can be many weeks after an inspection before the exact fines are known. However, the inspector will not leave the lab without notifying them of what violations were recorded. Does your lab staff wear gloves when necessary? Do they button up their lab coats and keep their sleeves rolled down? Are they wearing shoes made of non-absorbent material? Is anyone chewing gum? These are the violations that can close the lab down if the circumstances are right.

Enforcement of lab safety practices is a constant job, and education is an important piece of it. Educate the staff on consequences as well. Help them to understand and appreciate the role they play in the continued safe operation of the laboratory.

Join us for 2016 Safety Focus Groups

By: March 15th, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

Hi Folks –

By now you know that I often ask you for your opinion and expertise to help me write stories for our safety newsletters, Briefings on Hospital Safety,  Medical Environment Update, and Healthcare Life Safety Compliance. Now, I’d like to ask you to help me make your job easier to do.

In the next couple of months, I will be conducting a series of focus groups, and I would like to invite as many of you as possible to participate. This will be your chance to tell me how we at HCPro should be steering our safety products.

I’d like to find out more about you, my customers, and what you need to do your job better. There are many aspects of the safety market changing, and with it I need to know who you are and what will help you. I’d like to know where you are now getting your information, if not us, and why?

In addition, we have been working on building a new Web portal that will be designed around your needs as a safety professional, launching sometime in early 2017. The goal is to develop a place where you can go every single day to get all of the information and tools you need to keep up with what the regulators are doing, help keep your facility in compliance, and to make your workplace a safer one.

Please drop me a line at jpalmer@hcpro.com if you are interested and let me know what your general availability is. I will be scheduling focus groups of about 2-3 people based on mutually agreeable times.

Thank you so much for your help!

John Palmer
Managing Editor, Safety
HCPro

Seeking feedback on PPE handbook

By: March 2nd, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

Hi folks –

Once again, it’s time to ask your opinion about books we at the Safety group at HCPro are working on.

Our latest effort, due out in June, will be a book tentatively called the PPE Handbook for Healthcare Facilities. Based on customer research we conducted, a whopping 85% said they were concerned about proper PPE and its use, and about 50% said they were concerned about pandemic response. About 66% said they would buy a book about Ebola response, and 75% indicated they were likely to buy a book about reducing healthcare-associated infections and infection control as a whole.

Following the Ebola outbreak of late 2014, there were many healthcare workers who complained that their facility did not properly train them or provide proper PPE. In fact, about 50% of our respondents indicated they felt their facility was only “somewhat prepared” for a pandemic or biological emergency.

Another 84% said their facility was forced to change their response plan after last year’s outbreak of Ebola. These changes include new PPE and training their staff members to work with it. Others indicated they have created “SWAT” teams capable of responding quickly to new patients and isolate them quickly. Still others said they have updated their emergency plans to include an Ebola-specific plans, and have drilled with their staff.

We want to produce a book that will be a comprehensive primer of the proper PPE for any infectious diseases/substances healthcare workers are likely to encounter, especially given Ebola, MERS, and other highly infectious diseases that are showing up at hospitals. We could cover respirators, full body suits including donning and doffing techniques, spotters, PAPR respirators and N95 respirators as well as when each would be required. This will be a shorter, “go-to” reference that could also be used to help train your staff.

I’d like to know your thoughts on this book – what you’d like to see in it, what the need for the book is, and what tools, checklists and information you’d like to read about.

Please shoot me an email with your thoughts as soon as possible at jpalmer@hcpro.com. Your input will help shape the content of the book!

Thank you!

John Palmer

Guest Column: The Lab Sound Barrier

By: February 18th, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is a guest blog by Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, a Laboratory Safety Officer for Sentara Healthcare, a multi-hospital system in the Tidewater region of Virginia.

Ergonomics tends to be a lesser concern in the realm of laboratory safety, and noise – an ergonomics issue – gets even less attention. Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the College of American Pathologists (CAP) require that noise gets proper notice in the lab. Laboratories of all types must have a policy that outline how workers will be protected from over-exposure to noise. What is over-exposure? How can that be measured? Are you doing what needs to be done to meet these standards?

If you have never measured noise levels in your work area, then it is time to take that first step. OSHA requires monitoring in areas where employees may be exposed to 85 decibels (dBA) as measured over an eight hour Time-Weighted Average (TWA). Many laboratories have noise-generating equipment such as centrifuges, analyzers, Biosafety Cabinets, pneumatic tube systems, and more. Smaller labs and clinics may not have equipment that is noisy, but it is a good idea to at least document a baseline set of readings. If your work area is near or above the 85 dBA limit, you should take measurements on a regular basis. If readings are above 85, you must establish a Hearing Conservation Program for your laboratory, and regular noise readings will be a part of that.

Noise readings can be taken in two different ways, via the use of a noise meter or a noise dosimeter. No matter which equipment is chosen, it must be calibrated. A noise dosimeter is a device that stores sound readings and integrates them over time to provide an average of decibels recorded over that given time. A dosimeter is a small device worn by the employee or placed in a given area. Alternatively, a noise meter may be used. This is a device which records single noise readings. Because the meter cannot provide a noise TWA, it is necessary to take multiple readings in multiple locations throughout the laboratory. I recommend at taking at least five readings per location. Be sure to take readings in all areas where employees perform their duties. When taking noise measurements, make sure the usual lab background noise is present- analyzers should be operating, centrifuges should be spinning, and radios (if present) should be playing. It may be necessary to take individual measurements at different times throughout the day. When using a noise meter, you will have to estimate the overall noise exposure and show that levels are under the 85 dBA limit. If you do not have the equipment necessary for monitoring sound using either method, check with the facilities or occupational health department (if applicable), or you may need to contact an outside vendor who performs such readings.

If the noise exposure is determined to be greater than 85 dBA, then the hearing conservation program must be put into place. The program must include continued regular monitoring of noise levels, audiometric testing of employees, hearing protection, and training. Audiometric (hearing) testing must be offered to all affected staff and be performed by a qualified individual (such as an occupational health nurse). Employers must provide hearing protection (such as ear plugs) that fit comfortably and offer sufficient protection. Train employees in the proper care and use of such devices. Employees should also have access to OSHA’s noise standard, and complete training on the program should be documented.

Once you have a noise program in place for the laboratory, remember to keep it active. If there is a change in equipment (a new analyzer, fume hood, etc.), or if equipment is moved, new noise readings should be taken. If employees complain about noise in a particular area, do not ignore the complaint – take measurements and report them to the affected staff.

Once noise issues are discovered, there should be no barriers to correcting them. Noise abatement methods may include substitution of equipment, placement of sound-absorbing materials, and the use of sound enclosures. It is rare for those who work in a lab that ear plugs or other sound-reducing tools are needed. However, it is important – and required – to adequately monitor the noise levels in your lab and to keep your staff safe by protecting them against hearing loss. Make noise protection a vital piece of your laboratory ergonomics program.

 

Seeking input on waste management book

By: January 27th, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

Hi folks –

Once again, it’s time to ask your opinion about books we at the Safety group at HCPro are working on.

Our latest effort, due out in May, will be a book about hazardous waste handling and management in hospitals, with an eye on regulatory compliance and worker safety.

As you may know, the EPA is considering proposed new regulations governing pharmaceutical waste. Rules currently under review include banning pharmaceutical flushing and labeling of materials that produce hazardous waste. Also, with a rise in unique infectious diseases such as Ebola in healthcare, many hospitals are confused about proper disposal, especially as many trash haulers will not accept Class A medical waste, and such waste is subject to ever-stricter incineration standards.

In addition, as regulations become stronger, and hospitals not in compliance can be fined by the day, the disposal of hazardous wastes in a hospital become much more confusing and crucial to follow. We’d like to do a book that helps you wade through the regulations, explains the different kinds of waste generated, and give you tips on how you can reduce waste in your hospital and save money.

There is not much out there, and most of what is written dates to the 1990s, which indicates most recent information hospitals have to go on is 20 years old. Most hospitals are governed under the RCRA Act 1976 for waste disposal, and are governed by the amount per month of waste generated. It behooves hospitals to cut the amount of medical waste generated to cut costs.

In our 2015 Safety Customer Survey, 63% said they were interested in a book about waste reduction, specifically about decreasing needs for red bags, EPA generator requirements, reducing hazardous waste, and less hazardous alternatives for commonly-used products.

I’d like to know your thoughts on this book – what you’d like to see in it, what the need for the book is, and what tools, checklists and information you’d like to read about.

Please shoot me an email with your thoughts as soon as possible at jpalmer@hcpro.com. Your input will help shape the content of the book!

Thank you!

John Palmer

Want to be an author for HCPro?

By: January 13th, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

Hi folks –

As you know, from time to time, I ask you for your input on books that the safety market at HCPro will be working on. After all, we are trying to help you do your jobs better and you’re the people who know best what you need.

Below is a list of the book subjects that we have in development for this year. This is in direct response to the feedback we have gotten from customer surveys, market research and trends, as well as a good look at the books we’ve done in the past and felt that needed a re-write.

What we don’t have are authors, and that’s where I need your help. To get these books written, I need to get the ball rolling talking to subject experts who know a things or two about the topics below.

If you are interested in writing a book for us, or know someone who is qualified, please drop me a line at jpalmer@hcpro.com. You don’t have to be an experienced author, and this is a great opportunity to get your name out there on a book cover – and you will be compensated.

 May

Drug Diversion Prevention – Preventing theft of controlled substances at hospitals has always been of paramount importance, but it is still a big problem, as evidenced by the Sept. 28 Justice Department settlement, requiring Massachusetts General Hospital to pay $2.3 million to resolve allegations that lax controls enabled MGH employees to divert controlled substances such as oxycodone for personal use. The book could discuss components of a good prevention plan including things like the establishment of an internal drug diversion team; the creation of a full-time drug diversion compliance officer position; mandatory training of all staff with access to controlled substances, how to identify the signs and symptoms of substance abuse; enhanced diversion monitoring by supervisors and management; annual external audits; and increased physical controls of controlled substances, including limiting and monitoring access to automated dispensing machines through fingerprint identification and other security measures.

June

PPE Handbook for Pandemics – A comprehensive primer of the proper PPE for any infectious diseases/substances healthcare workers are likely to encounter, especially given Ebola, MERS, and other highly infectious diseases that are showing up at hospitals. We could cover respirators, full body suits including donning and doffing techniques, spotters, PAPR respirators and N95 respirators as well as when each would be required.

 October

Hazardous Waste Disposal and Management – As the EPA regulations become stronger (Proposed new generator rule could pass any day), hospitals not in compliance can be fined by the day, the disposal of hazardous wastes in a hospital become much more confusing and crucial to follow. We’d like to do a book that helps you wade through the regulations, explains the different kinds of waste generated, and give you tips on how you can reduce waste in your facility.

December

Proper cleansing/disinfection of GI duodenoscopes – A book about the origins of the problem, what the risks are, how to overhaul your facility’s reprocessing program, as well as the fines and lawsuits that can follow the outbreak of a major infection at hospitals. This book could contain checklists and lots of important information about how to design an effective scope reprocessing team and procedures, as well as how to train your staff who may be responsible for cleaning them.

I look forward to hearing from you!

John Palmer

Safety Success Down Any Path

By: January 7th, 2016 Email This Post Print This Post

The following is a guest blog by Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, a Laboratory Safety Officer for Sentara Healthcare, a multi-hospital system in the Tidewater region of Virginia.

For eight years, while performing lab safety audits, I have cited a couple of labs for having keyboards raised. The little legs on the rear of the computer keyboard were up and there was no wrist rest in place. Ergonomically, this is an unsound practice, and it is one item on my safety audit checklist. Needless to say, managers do not view this as a big lab safety issue- not when faced with things like PPE issues, out of date safety checks and various more immediate problems. However, a raised keyboard can create problems for those who perform at the computer often. These problems may not show up until later in life, but the stresses on the wrist of a hand working constantly at an angle (rather than in a straight line as is best) can be serious for that employee.

Last month, while conducting a safety audit, the manager asked me how her lab was doing so far. I reviewed with her the items I had cited, and one was that pesky keyboard issue. I stepped out of the department, and when I returned, I found a pile of keyboard legs on my laptop with a note: “Now you can never cite for this again!”

You may not consider this a major safety victory, but it did illustrate a couple of points I have been teaching safety professionals for years.

1: The secret of a successful lab safety professional is that he or she never goes away- they never quit on an issue.

2: If there is only one person promoting safety in the lab, then that is enough to make a difference.

Point 1 is easier to see in this illustration. When I first began performing these safety audits in the labs, I was citing many areas for that particular ergonomics issue (among others). Some of the lab managers I work with strongly support safety, and others do not, but most were in agreement- this was not a big deal and they were not going to worry about it. I persisted. I cited it every year. I did not give up. I did not go away.

This year, when the manager removed the keyboard “feet,” the story spread, and two other managers did the same. It was a minor safety victory- but it was a victory nonetheless.

Point 2 is a bit more obscure, but it is very important. I have worked with some lab safety professionals whose manager does not support safety in the department. They are trying to make a difference in their safety culture and they feel alone and useless. I strongly believe that the lab safety program will have faster success with management and medical director support, more members on the safety team is definitely of benefit. However, I also believe that one person alone can make a difference in the lab’s safety culture.

For the keyboard story, I was the only one who seemed to care about that one safety issue. I made no headway on it for eight years. Success came (albeit slowly) even though I was the only person talking about it. You might be the only person talking about safety on your lab, and you might be repeating yourself often. You might not see it yet, but you are making a difference.

As a lab safety professional, you may come to a fork in the road on your way to safety improvement. The path to the left could be a road of persistence- you may be fighting the same battle over and over again. To the right is the lonely road where only you seem to be supporting the lab safety initiatives. You might even take the middle road where both challenges occur.

No matter the path you may be forced to take in your work place, the same tactics will assist you in navigating to safety success. Be patient, be persistent, and keep talking about safety.

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Test your safety knowledge and win $100 off HCPro products!

June 2, 2016
by: John Palmer • Uncategorized

Take our 2016 Safety Month survey and win $100 off HCPro products!

May 24, 2016
by: John Palmer • Uncategorized

CMS adopts 2012 Life Safety Code®

May 3, 2016
by: John Palmer • Uncategorized

The OSHA Consequences

March 24, 2016
by: John Palmer • Uncategorized

Join us for 2016 Safety Focus Groups

March 15, 2016
by: John Palmer • Uncategorized

Seeking feedback on PPE handbook

March 2, 2016
by: John Palmer • Uncategorized

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