9 Health & Safety Risk Assessment Questions Every Healthcare Facility Should Ask Themselves
OSHA not only enforces regulations in the construction and oil and gas industry, they also have a set of regulations specifically for safety and health in healthcare facilities. Additionally, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) also sets guidelines for the healthcare industry. Recently a veterans’ hospital in Arkansas was cited for 15 notices of unsafe or unhealthy working conditions. Because the VA hospital is a federal agency, OSHA cannot fine them but if they could, the fines would amount to an estimated $200,000.
OSHA inspectors found uncapped contaminated needles, lack of machine guarding on pulleys, belts and table saws, and lack of lockout/tagout procedures. Inspectors also cited the hospital for a number of hazards relating to bloodborne pathogens, electrocution and amputation risks.
Healthcare facilities are liable for the safety and well-being of their employees and patients. When was the last time your facility underwent an environmental, health and safety risk assessment? Here are 9 things hospitals and other healthcare facilities should consider:
- Does your facility conduct exposure monitoring to measure chemical exposure to employees? Common exposures include waste anesthesia gas, formaldehyde and xylene. Areas to consider are surgery rooms, laboratories, labor and delivery rooms, pathology areas and PACU.
- Do you currently have a Clean Room/Pharmacy certification? USP 797 requires that facilities conduct Clean Room Surveys to ensure compliance for compounding sterile preparations.
- Does your facility have Biological Safety Cabinets? Biological safety cabinets and chemical fume hoods can be found in the pharmacy and laboratory. They need to be certified when installed, moved and at least annually by a third-party vendor.
- Plan to remodel or renovate your facility? Prior to any renovation, facilities should be aware of asbestos containing materials. An asbestos survey should be conducted by a professional to determine the presence of asbestos in materials that will be disturbed during the renovation process. Additionally, your facility should have a Facility Asbestos Management Plan.
5. Are medical gas surveys conducted? All surveys and tests should meet NFPA requirements. A third-party vendor should be responsible for testing and certification of your medical gas.
6. Is there an established Ergonomics Program? Eliminating ergonomic stressors reduces the risk for employees developing musculoskeletal injuries. Handling and transferring patients often leads to employee injuries. Employees should be aware of ergonomic hazards and understand ways to avoid ergonomic stressors. For example, employees should be conscious of awkward lifting positions such as twisting or bending over while lifting.
7. Are your employees trained in health and safety? Employees should have access to safety training to ensure a safe work environment. Common topics that should be addressed are respiratory protection, hazard communication, bloodborne pathogens, Ebola/contagious diseases, decontamination, hazard materials and mass casualty.
8. When did you last review the safety and health manual? Facilities should review their health and safety policies on an annual basis. Pay close attention to the following programs:
- Respiratory Protection Program– Is fit testing performed and documented? Is a hazard assessment conducted annually?
- Emergency Action Plan– Does it meet Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and OSHA requirements? Does it include Catastrophe Response regarding major events like flooding, water intrusion or fire?
- Personal Protective Equipment– Has a hazard assessment been conducted to identify potential exposures? Can hazard controls be implemented?
- Safety Management System– Are you able to coordinate all safety activities, document completion and competency, and identify areas of need?
9. What ventilation measurements are performed? Per Joint Commission requirements, ventilation measurements should be taken to determine air changes and pressure differentials in high-risk areas such as surgery, isolation rooms and emergency departments.
For a full risk assessment, contact SRP at (318) 222-2364. Our certified industrial hygienist has over 25 years of experience in providing industrial hygiene services, as well as working within the healthcare industry. SRP has seven convenient locations in Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Midland, Shreveport and Pittsburgh.
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Founded in 1996, SRP Environmental LLC provides full service environmental consulting, health and safety consulting, environmental services, and health and safety training through our network of offices in North America and the Pacific. With over 125 years of combined experience, our expert staff is able to leverage its diverse knowledge base to ensure that our clients are in compliance with applicable environmental, industrial hygiene and safety regulations.
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A 28-year old maintenance employee fell 17 feet through a hopper while relining a concrete dump hopper. As a result, the employee suffered multiple fractures. OSHA then conducted an inspection of the VCNA Prairie Inc facility and found numerous violations relating to confined space. Violations include failure to use adequate equipment for entry and exit, lack of a retrieval system, failure to have an attendant present during entry into confined spaces, absence of posted warning signs and failure to issue permits to enter such spaces. VCNA Prairie Inc could face up to $51,000 in penalties. Read the original story at www.osha.gov.
Entry into a confined space exposes employees to a number of hazards. Lack of oxygen, exposure to toxic gases or fumes and entrapment are just a few hazards working in confined spaces.
How can you keep your employees safe? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is this a permit-required confined space? A permit- required confined space contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.
- Do you have adequate signage? Post signage noting that the confined space is “enter by permit only”.
- Are you employees trained? Ensure proper training for employees that are affected by confined spaces, including attendants, entrants, supervisors and rescue teams.
- What roles are employees assigned? Assign the attendant role to a person who will monitor authorized entrants who enter and exit the permit required confined space. Designate who will be authorized entrants, entry supervisor or person to monitor the atmosphere in a permit-space.
- Do you have a trained confined space rescue team on stand-by? Implement procedures that address summoning rescue and emergency services, rescuing entrants from permit spaces and providing necessary emergency services to rescued employees.
- How are you ensuring the safety of employees in confined spaces? Use proper controls and protective equipment, including respirators, PPE and fall protection.
In need of a comprehensive Confined Space Program and Training? Contact SRP Environmental for more information.
Companies and facilities who discharge stormwater and wastewater into the waterways of the United States will now have a new way of reporting information. As part of the Clean Water Act, permits are required in order for a company or facility to discharge wastewater and stormwater. The purpose is to ensure that human health and the environment is not affected by the contaminated discharge. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Electronic Reporting Rule will now require facilities to submit reports and data electronically instead of in paper form. Documents will include Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs), Notices of Intent to Discharge and additional program reports. Entities under the NPDES program will also submit reporting data to the EPA electronically.
Transparency among companies and entities, consistent data entry and compliance monitoring are just a few of the benefits of the new rule. Not to mention, the vast cost savings and time spent entering and submitting the data.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will finalize the rule in the Federal Register later this month. Implementation of the new procedures will take place over a period of five years and in two phases.
For more information regarding the NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule, visit the EPA online.
Beryllium is a metal that is stronger than steel and lighter than aluminum. Beryllium’s elemental properties include high melting point, thermal stability and conductivity, high strength to weight and transparency to X-rays.
Workers are most likely exposed to beryllium when working in foundry and smelting operations, machining, beryllium ceramic and composite manufacturing, or a dental lab setting. Workers can be exposed by inhaling or coming in contact with beryllium in the air or on surfaces. Exposure can lead to sensitization to beryllium and cause chronic beryllium disease (CBD), acute beryllium disease and lung cancer.
Because of the hazardous effects of beryllium, OSHA proposed a new rule back in August of 2015. The proposed rule will lower the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium from 2 μg/m3 to 0.2 μg/m3 within an 8-hour time weighted average.
So how does this new ruling affect you and your company?
If the proposed rule becomes a final rule, employers will have different monitoring requirements. The PEL will be substantially lowered, which means that changes will be made to control methods for reducing exposures, training documents related to hazards and how to limit beryllium exposure, and medical surveillance. Not to mention, additional monitoring procedures may be required to make sure employers adhere to the 0.2 μg/m3 PEL.
Members of the public may read the proposal and submit written comments here. Comments must be submitted by Nov. 5, 2015.
For more information and additional resources, visit https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/beryllium/.
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