OSHA Compliance in Long-Term Care: Ensuring That LTC Facilities Comply with Safety and Health Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration pays particular attention to LTC facilities to ensure that they comply with safety and health standards. In a formal inspection of your facility, OSHA is likely to look at the following:

Even though there is no standard related to ergonomics at this time, OSHA still has full enforcement authority in this area as a result of what is known as the "General Duty Clause" of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA wants to see evidence of:

OSHA's Web site provides links to many resources.

Exposure to Blood and Other Potentially Infectious Materials
? Develop a properly written bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan. Be sure to provide initial and annual training and to document the following items in writing:

More resources on bloodborne pathogens are available at www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/hospital/hazards/bbp/bbp.html. For information on OSHA-compliant bloodborne pathogen training, visit www.Stericycle.com.

Exposure to tuberculosis and other airborne transmissible diseases
Even though active TB disease levels in the U.S. are presently at their lowest level ever, there are still millions of people in our country with latent TB infection (LTBI). While most healthy immune systems can keep LTBI in check, residents of LTC facilities have diminished immune systems. For that reason, LTC facilities must always remain vigilant and plan in advance for how they will handle a resident who develops active TB disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends eight basic steps for preventing the transmission of TB:

Resources on preventing TB transmission are available at: www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/hospital/hazards/tb/tb.html#ProgramtoControlExposures. Facilities in California should also be aware that a new Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standard 5199 has now been implemented in that state. This standard covers not only tuberculosis, but also other airborne transmitted diseases and makes provisions of the guidelines from the CDC concerning prevention of TB transmission enforceable.

Slips, Trips, and Falls
Falls in workplaces account for many preventable injuries to workers and billions of dollars spent in workers compensation costs annually. Careful attention to basic safety precautions can pay tremendous dividends to your facility's bottom line:

Learn how to prevent slips, trips, and falls at: www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/hospital/hazards/slips/slips.html.

An effective injury and illness prevention program requires management commitment and employee involvement. This is the key to providing a safe and healthful workplace for your and employees.

About the Author
Richard L. Best is Corporate Director, OSHA Compliance for Stericycle, Inc. He holds a Certificate in Industrial Hygiene Management from Columbia Southern University and is an OSHA Authorized General Industry Trainer and a Certified Occupational Safety Specialist.