Archive for: OSHA – General
According to the Leapfrog Group, U.S. hospitals are only incremental progress when it comes to dealing with accidents, errors, injuries and infections that hurt or kill their patients.
The national, independent non-profit assigns letter grades to about 2,500 hospitals across the nation, a grade known as the Hospital Safety Score, based on hospital safety data and reviewed by a panel of eight hospital safety professionals.
Maine edged out Massachusetts in the 2013 survey as the state with the safest hospitals, as 80 percent of that state’s hospitals received a grade of “A.” Completing the top five states were Minnesota, Virginia, and Illinois.
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OSHA has released a new resource to help keep emergency responders and facility workers safe when handling emergencies involving combustible dust. The booklet, titled Firefighting Precautions at Facilities with Combustible Dust, explains the associated hazards of combustible dust and outlines best practices for preparations to make prior to a response, as well as the effect of these preparations during incidents, according to an OSHA press release.
The booklet notes that “just about any solid material that burns can be explosible when finely divided into a dust” and states that a flash fire will occur when combustible dust that is dispersed in a cloud in proper concentrations is ignited. This flash fire can cause an explosion when confined in an enclosure such as a dust collector, processing equipment, conveyor, room, or building. According to the booklet, responders can inadvertently increase the chances of combustible dust explosions by using tactics that cause dust clouds to form, introducing air to create an atmosphere for explosions, applying the incorrect or incompatible extinguishing agents, or using tools and equipment that can become an ignition source.
More than 130 workers have been killed and nearly 800 workers have been injured in combustible dust explosions in the past three decades, according to OSHA. Many of these incidents may have been avoided with proper training and preparation for responding to such emergencies. OSHA’s newest resource should help facilities to avoid future worker injuries and deaths by providing the information necessary for safe practices with regards to combustible dust.
Access the OSHA booklet titled Firefighting Precautions at Facilities with Combustible Dust here.
Q: Does our annual bloodborne pathogen training have to happen exactly one year to the day later? We are low-staffed right now and scheduling is a concern, and an extra month would really help.
A: Your annual training doesn’t need to take place on the exact anniversary date of the preceding training but should be provided on a data “reasonably close” to the anniversary date. OHSA allows for you to take into account the company’s and the employees’ convenience in scheduling, but if the annual training cannot be completed by the anniversary date, you’ll need to write down why it’s been delayed and when the training will be provided.
*This is an excerpt from The OSHA Training Handbook for Healthcare Facilities by Sarah E. Alholm, MAS.
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. www.isips.org
Q: Is it OK to store food and medications, such as vaccines, in the same fridge?
A: It is not acceptable to store medications, including vaccines, in the same refrigerator. In fact, there should be a separate refrigerator for meds and for food, and each should be clearly labeled on the door as to the contents.
Also, as a reminder, eating, drinking, smoking, and the application of cosmetics should not be allowed in a laboratory or an area where medications are prepared, mixed, etc.
–Kenneth S. Weinberg, BA, MSc, PhD, consultant in environmental health, safety, and toxicology; Safdoc Systems.
Usually the only fireworks that one equates with workplace safety is of the interpersonal type, but with Independence Day coming up, OSHA reminds employers, employees, and regular consumers of the danger inherent in fireworks displays, both public and private.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reminds that week 3 of June National Safety Month is Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls (STF) week.
Here is a list of the Council’s STF tips to share with your co-workers.
Week #3 of National Safety Council (NSC) Safety Month is Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls week. According to the NIOSH workbook, Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention for Healthcare Workers, the incidence rate of lost-workday injuries from slips, trips, and falls (STFs) in hospitals was 90% greater than the average rate for all other private industries combined.
NIOSH recommends conducting regular walk throughs using an STF check list to identify hazards, keeping a file of hazard photographs or descriptions, identifying staff members responsible for fixing the hazard and a targeted completion date. Compared to NIOSH recommendations, how thorough are you or staff members with regular STF walk-through inspection.
Take the OSHA Healthcare Advisor Weekly Poll and let us know.
Q: We are a low-risk setting for TB. What is the follow-up when a new worker has a positive skin test for TB?
A report on work-related injuries among certified nursing assistants (CNA) show that they face not only a significantly high rate of injuries but also a wide variety of injuries.
It’s no surprise that highly toxic chemicals, found in chemotherapy drugs and sterilizing agents used to clean medical devices, can be harmful to those who don’t take the proper precautions. What is surprising is that exposure to these chemicals continues to be an issue, and that is one of the feature articles of the May issue of Medical Environment Update.
Here is an excerpt.
OSHA and the Laser Institute of America have renewed their alliance aimed at reducing and preventing worker exposure to laser beam and non-beam hazards in industrial, research, and medical workplaces.
“Worker exposure to laser beams can result in eye and skin damage, and in more serious cases, blindness and skin cancer,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels in a May 9 agency announcement. “This renewed Alliance will help broaden outreach efforts to workers and employers and share critical education and information to reduce preventable injuries.”
The agreement calls for the development of fact sheets for facilities that use lasers and conducting laser safety seminars for OSHA field staff.
The alliance has already produced laser-related OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics on how to recognize and reduce laser hazards, OSHA standards related to lasers, and training on laser safety. See:
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