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Health Care IndustryStep 1: OSHA Requirements That Apply to Many Health Care Employers

The following are some of the key OSHA standards that apply to many health care employers:

  1. Hazard Communication Standard. This standard is designed to ensure that employers and employees know about hazardous chemicals in the workplace and how to protect themselves. Employers with employees who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace must prepare and implement a written Hazard Communication Program and comply with other requirements of the standard.
  2. Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. OSHA issued this standard to protect employees from the health hazards of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Employers are subject to OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard if they have employees whose jobs put them at reasonable risk of coming into contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. Employers subject to this standard must develop a written exposure control plan, provide training to exposed employees, and comply with other requirements of the standard.
  3. Ionizing Radiation Standard. This standard applies to facilities that have an x-ray machine. It requires affected employers to conduct a survey of the types of radiation used in the facility, including x-rays, to designate restricted areas to limit employee exposure, and to require employees working in designated areas to wear personal radiation monitors. In addition, radiation areas and equipment must be labeled and equipped with caution signs.
  4. Exit Routes Standards. All employers must comply with OSHA's requirements for exit routes in the workplace.
  5. Electrical Standards. Electrical hazards, such as wiring deficiencies, are one of the hazards most frequently cited by OSHA. OSHA's electrical standards include design requirements for electrical systems and safety-related work practices. If you use flammable gases, you may need special wiring and equipment installation.
  6. Emergency Action Plan Standard. OSHA recommends that all employers have an Emergency Action Plan. A plan is mandatory when required by an OSHA standard. An Emergency Action Plan describes the actions employees should take to ensure their safety in a fire or other emergency situation.
  7. Fire Safety Standard. OSHA recommends that all employers have a Fire Prevention Plan. A plan is mandatory when required by an OSHA standard.
  8. Medical and First Aid Standard. OSHA requires employers to provide medical and first-aid personnel and supplies commensurate with the hazards of the workplace. The details of a workplace medical and first-aid program are dependent on the circumstances of each workplace and employer.
  9. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Employers must perform an assessment of each operation in their workplace to determine if their employees are required to wear PPE. Note that engineering controls and work practices are the preferred methods for protecting employees - OSHA generally considers PPE to be the least desirable means of controlling employee exposure.

This list is not comprehensive - additional OSHA standards may apply to your workplace. Be sure to review OSHA's general industry standards (29 CFR 1910) for other requirements. In addition, section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, known as the General Duty Clause, requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace that is free of recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

  • You may review and print FREE copies of OSHA's general industry standards from OSHA's Web site (29 CFR 1910).
  • You may also order bound volumes of the standards from the Government Printing Office (GPO) at (866) 512-1800 or from GPO's website. To get the complete set of general industry standards from GPO, you will need to order the following two volumes: (1) Title 29, Parts 1900 to 1910 (section 1910.1 to 1910.999) and (2) Title 29, Part 1910 (sections 1910.1000 to end).

NOTE: To find the OSHA standards that are most frequently cited by OSHA inspectors, visit Frequently Cited OSHA Standards. On that Web page, you can find the most frequently cited federal or state OSHA standards based on your organization's Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code and the number of employees in your establishment.

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