What Medical Office Support Staff Needs to Know About OSHA

Working in the healthcare industry, a big part of your job is familiarizing yourself with important details. One in particular is compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. Understanding how to access OSHA educational materials, prepare for an OSHA inspection and report problems helps support staff in a medical office provide a safe, healthy environment for other workers and patients.

Staying Up to Date with OSHA Requirements

OSHA regulations that apply to medical offices include standards on handling blood-borne pathogens, ionizing radiation, hazard communications, electrical equipment and exit routes. OSHA standards are updated regularly, so it's important to maintain the most current documentation and posters. You can sign up for industry newsletters that inform you of OSHA changes. You can also call 800-321-OSHA to set up a consultation with a local OSHA representative, who can help you understand the most recent requirements or answer any questions about compliance for your building.

OSHA Policy Materials

You can download OSHA standards from the administration’s Web site. If you want to drill down specifically to requirements relevant to medical offices, search for "Major Group 80" using the site’s search bar. Major Group 80 is the industry group that encompasses health-related businesses, and OSHA provides a list of health subgroups on the site so you can find the regulations specific to your medical office.

OSHA Inspections

An OSHA inspection team may visit your office at any time. It could be related to injuries in the office or complaints, or it could be just a random review. OSHA inspections usually involve an opening meeting, a walkthrough and a closing meeting, in which the OSHA representative presents findings.

Since you never know when an inspection may occur, you should keep your medical office compliant with regulations at all times. All support staff in a medical office should make it a point to understand major OSHA requirements and how to comply with them. Make sure hazard communication  and other posters are mounted in areas where all staff can see them. Keep first aid kits organized and easily accessible. Make sure you know how to exit the building in an emergency, how to maintain your workstation and what to do if you or someone else is exposed to blood-borne pathogens. And if a true problem occurs, you must also know how to file an OSHA complaint.

Filing an OSHA Complaint

If you work in a medical office — or are aware of an office — that is not complying with OSHA requirements, you can file a complaint with OSHA. Complaints can be filed on the OSHA Web site, by mail to your local OSHA office or by phone. OSHA recommends that you work with your employer to resolve problems first; complaints should only be filed if employers don't take action to remedy unsafe situations. If you file a complaint, you can remain anonymous and request that your name not be revealed to your employer.

Know the Rules and Regulations

To keep medical staff and patients safe, everyone in a healthcare workplace should be familiar with the appropriate OSHA regulations. All support staff should understand how to access requirements, prepare for an inspection and communicate with OSHA.

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