Mac’s Safety Space: And then, there’s this to consider…

By Steve MacArthur, Hospital Safety Consultant

In other news, the good folks over at the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recently indicated their intent to move forward with several rulemaking processes that address certain conditions and risks in the healthcare industry: COVID, infectious diseases, and workplace violence.

Certainly there’s been a fair amount of focus on those topics as, to one degree or another, they have occupied a lot of space in the healthcare safety and health world, going back to the updated guidance in 2015 and 2016 on workplace violence (you can find the details here) and the more recent challenges relating to the pandemic response and the potential for other emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) (more on that here).

Certainly, there are existing OSHA standards, particularly on the infectious disease front, (I’m thinking the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard will be one of the cornerstones, along with guidance from the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), but it will be interesting to see how this unfolds from a regulatory standpoint.

Likewise, the Emergency Temporary Standard regarding COVID (https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/ets ) will probably figure strongly in the promulgation of the COVID standard, though I suppose it is possible that, at some point down the road a bit, guidance and expectations relating to COVID may find their way into any infectious disease standards.

All that said, I guess two things are in order: Probably worth checking back on what is already in the OSHA toolbox, and, keep a close watch on how these rulemaking processes unfold. None of this stuff ever seems to happen quickly and I have no doubt that there will be a lot of modifications, etc., as these reach the “real world.” Safety in the workplace is always going to be a goal/focus/challenge and hopefully there are only improvements ahead.

About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with Chartis Clinical Quality Solutions (formerly known as The Greeley Company) in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Healthcare Safety Leader. Contact Steve at stevemacsafetyspace@gmail.com.

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Environment and Facilities, OSHA