News Release USDL: 96-318
Monday, August 5, 1996
Contact: Stephen Gaskill, OSHA (202) 219-6091
Juan Solano, OPA (312) 353-6976
Alice Brown, Joint Commission (708) 916-5635
OSHA And Joint Commission Collaborate To Promote
Health And Safety For Health Care Workers
A new agreement between the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration (OSHA) and a health
care accrediting organization will mean safer
jobs for thousands of health care workers
across the country.
OSHA and the Joint Commission on the
Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
today announced a three-year partnership to
promote health and safety for health care
workers. It will help health care organizations
meet accreditation expectations and underscore
OSHA compliance requirements.
"This is a logical and significant alliance,"
said Joseph A. Dear, assistant secretary of
labor for occupational safety and health, "to
assure a safe and healthful environment for those
who give and those who receive care. Underscoring
this partnership is the realization that the care
environment' is also a work environment.' Issues
such as infection control, life safety, hazardous
materials handling and patient handling are areas
in which we seek to improve worker safety and
health. By working together we can reach that
goal more easily and efficiently."
The project will involve the following
Undertaking cross-education and
training of Joint Commission and OSHA staffs
on corresponding requirements that relate
to management of worker safety and health.
Cataloging and evaluating potentially
duplicative compliance activities; and
Developing a series of collaborative
publications and user education programs.
The project will be evaluated after three
years to determine its effect on accredited
organizations, the Joint Commission and OSHA.
The Joint Commission's Comprehensive Accreditation
Manual for Hospitals: The Official Handbook,
due for release in mid-August, details workplace
safety and health compliance requirements for
health care workers and clearly illustrates
how compliance with commission standards also
satisfies OSHA requirements. Joint Commission
and OSHA staffs teamed up to write the manual's
workplace safety and health examples.
"We realize the health care industry receives
a great deal of government oversight," says
Dear. "This manual should help reduce the
burden. By complying with the standards in
the Joint Commission's accreditation manual,
health care employers are more likely to be
Recently, 60 Joint Commission staff participated
in a three-day session to learn how to recognize
potential compliance issues related to employee
safety and health hazards in health care
"Workplace illness and injury rates are higher
in hospitals and long term care organizations
than in any other type of health care organization.
Therefore, we are initially focusing our efforts
on these areas," said Dennis S. O'Leary, M.D.,
president of the Joint Commission. "However,
we are hopeful that this collaborative partnership
will have far-reaching, positive effects on all
our accredited organizations."
For more information about the Joint
Commission/OSHA partnership, please call
Carole Patterson, deputy director, Department
of Standards, Joint Commission, 630/792-5944.