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Small Medical Offices: Avoid the 5 Most Common OSHA Regulation Pitfalls

Failing to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements can be an expensive mistake for any business. This is especially true if you’re a healthcare office, since there are hundreds of OSHA requirements to keep up with daily.

Here's a look at five common pitfalls you should review in your small medical office.

Pitfall 1: Poorly Written Plans for Exposure Control

OSHA requires medical offices to keep a written exposure control plan that governs staff actions if someone within the facility is exposed to a blood-borne pathogen. The plan must be updated annually, and you should make sure your staff is trained to follow it.

Pitfall 2: Inappropriate and Inaccurately Diagrammed Emergency Exits

Medical offices must have an appropriate number of emergency exits for all staff and patients within the facility, and a plan for evacuating all workers and patients quickly; don’t assume everyone will know where to exit. OSHA also requires that illustrated diagrams of exit routes be mounted in common areas and that all exit routes be free of obstructions, like file storage boxes, office furniture or equipment.

Pitfall 3: Occupational Injury Reports Lacking Detail

While OSHA medical requirements exempt many healthcare offices from the same occupational reporting standards other industries must follow, it’s still important to keep detailed records. State regulations might require that you report injuries and illnesses to local entities, and some injuries may be related to OSHA-relevant hazards. It's a good idea to keep track of injuries and what first aid and treatment were provided in the office. This information may be relevant in future OSHA inspections or workers’ compensation cases.

Pitfall 4: Unclear Requirements for Hazard Communication

OSHA requires that all companies make hazardous materials readily apparent to staff and others. In a medical office, this could include sharps containers, biological waste receptacles, fluid samples, medications and cleaning chemicals. You'll need to follow specific OSHA guidelines for tags, containers and signs. Medical offices also have to create and maintain a policy on hazard communication.

Pitfall 5: Bad Personal and Facility Cleanliness

Sanitation is essential within a medical environment, so it's not surprising that OSHA would check up on things like housekeeping and hand washing. Both are common issues during an OSHA audit, so make sure all staff is trained to be responsible for personal hygiene. If you use contract staff for housekeeping, try to use a company familiar with medical requirements. In a medical office, housekeeping should go beyond dusting and vacuuming — you need procedures for sterilization and dealing with biohazards.

Make the Investment

Making everyone who works in a medical office familiar with these five pitfalls will help your healthcare business meet OSHA requirements. In extreme circumstances, OSHA can begin processes to revoke medical licenses or shut down offices. Although it takes time and money to remain compliant, addressing common issues like these is an important investment for medical offices.

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