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OSHA Trade Release
December 21, 2004
Contact: Susan Fleming
Phone: (202) 693-1999

OSHA Offers Best Practices for Hospitals Receiving
Victims of Mass Casualties

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today released information to help hospitals safeguard their own employees as they care for patients injured in incidents involving chemical, biological or radiological materials.

"Drawn from excellent emergency plans developed by hospitals across the U.S., OSHA's new best practices document will support healthcare facilities in protecting their own personnel while they prepare to receive and treat victims exposed to hazardous substances," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw.

Entitled OSHA Best Practices for Hospital-Based First Receivers of Victims from Mass Casualty Incidents Involving the Release of Hazardous Substances, the document is available on OSHA's Web site and offers useful information to help hospitals create emergency plans based on worst-case scenarios. It focuses on suggestions for appropriate training and suitable personal protective equipment for healthcare employees who may be exposed to hazardous substances when they treat victims of mass casualties. The document includes appendices with practical examples of decontamination procedures and medical monitoring for first receivers who respond to a mass casualty incident.

"This will be a tremendous resource for the nation's hospitals as well as the patients they may be called upon to care for as a result of a mass casualty incident," said Michael D. Brown, Department of Homeland Security under secretary for emergency preparedness and response and director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "Sharing best practices among our healthcare providers strengthens the ability to effectively provide assistance in such an emergency while safeguarding their own employees."

To develop the guidance, OSHA drew upon the best practices of hospitals of varying sizes and with differing risk levels and conducted an extensive literature search. The agency also placed a draft on its Web site during August 2004 and solicited additional stakeholder input.

"The AHA believes that the guidance will be of great value to hospitals as they enhance their emergency management plans to address both the threat of terrorist attacks as well as the unintentional release of toxic substances that periodically occur," said Rick Pollack, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association. "We especially applaud OSHA for the inclusive and deliberate process that the agency undertook in creating and seeking input and review of the guidance."

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) requires hospitals to develop plans to respond to both natural and manmade emergencies. Depending on their roles, some hospital employees also may be covered by OSHA's hazardous waste operations and emergency response standard. Following the guidance in the document will enable hospitals to fulfill these responsibilities.

OSHA's best practices document for first receivers is available at on the Emergency Preparedness and Response Web page.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit

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This news release text is on the Internet at Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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