The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets guidelines and standards for to promote the safety and health of workers. The OSHA guidelines for medical offices in particular focus on preventing employee exposure to communicable diseases, ionizing radiation and chemical hazards as well as general hazards (electrical and emergency exit routes).
Summary of 5 OSHA Guidelines for Medical Offices:
- Bloodborne Pathogens & Needlestick Safety
- Ionizing Radiation
- Hazard Communication
- Emergency Exit Routes
- Electrical Hazards
Bloodborne Pathogens & Needlestick Safety
According to OSHA, the most frequently requested medical guidelines are those on preventing the spread of bloodborne pathogens. The standard states:
- Employers who have employees exposed to contaminated sharps must consider and implement appropriate commercially available and effective safer medical devices designed to eliminate or minimize occupational exposure.
- Employees with occupational exposure must be trained in the use and limitations of methods that will prevent or reduce exposure, including safer medical devices, work practices and personal protective equipment.
- Practices with 10 or more employees must maintain a sharps injury log. The log must protect employee confidentiality.
Read the complete Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard here.
The OSHA guidelines for ionizing radiation apply to facilities that have an x-ray machine. It includes 3 basic requirements:
- Survey the types of radiation used.
- Require all x-ray equipment and all doors to rooms containing x-ray equipment to be labeled with signs.
- All areas containing radiation or x-ray equipment should have restricted access and should limit radiation exposure to employees. Personal radiation monitors should be provided to all employees who operate the equipment and to all employees whose work involves exposure to radiation.
The complete Regulations Standard for Ionizing Radiation can be found here.
OSHA guidelines require medical offices to provide employees with information regarding any hazards that are present:
- Hazardous chemicals used and/or stored in the medical office (a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet should be provided)
- Medical wastes
Emergency Exit Routes
All medical offices must provide “safe and accessible” exits from the building in the event of an emergency. Exits must be appropriately marked and a diagram should be posted in a highly visible area showing evacuation routes.
OSHA has a fact sheet that provides the answers to common questions including:
- What is an exit route?
- How many exit routes must a workplace have?
- What are some other design and construction requirements for exit routes?
- What are the requirements for exits?
- What are the maintenance, safeguarding, and operational features for exit routes?
- Are employers required to have emergency action plans?
Many procedures performed in a medical office require the use of medical equipment. It is important to perform regular inspections and maintenance of the equipment. Electrical standards to protect employees from injury include:
- Staff training in the proper usage of all equipment. Equipment should only be used by an employee for the purpose of performing his/her job.
- Equipment must be tagged with the inspection date, the due date of the next inspection and the inspector’s initials.
- In the event of failure or malfunction, immediately mark the equipment as, “OUT OF SERVICE”.
The complete Electrical Hazards Standard can be found here.
Originally published in 2014.