OSHA Standards and Regulations for Hospitals

Bloodborne Pathogens Hospital

OSHA regulations for hospitals include all applicable common workplace safety and health standards, plus any that apply to the specific services provided by the healthcare facility or its operations. 

Here are some examples:

Common Workplace Safety and Health Standards may include:

Specific Healthcare Safety and Health Standards may include:

Healthcare Operations Safety and Health Standards may include:

  • 1910.22 General Requirements
  • 1910.25 Stairways
  • 1910.35 Means of Egress
  • 1910.38 Emergency Action Plan
  • 1910.1096 Ionizing Radiation
  • 1910.1030 Bloodborne Pathogens
  • 1910 Subpart I Personal Protective Equipment
  • 1910 Subpart Z Toxic and Hazardous Substances
  • 1910.95 Noise Exposure
  • 1910.303 General Electrical Requirements
  • 1910 Subpart J General Environmental Controls
  • 1910 Subpart O Machinery and Machine Guarding

On top of all that, the OSHA regulations for hospitals include all applicable administrative and recordkeeping standards promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or state specific OSHA Plan.

Which OSHA Regulations apply to Hospitals?

The challenge of OSHA compliance for hospitals is in analyzing which OSHA regulations may apply to them. 

For example, safety and health threats attributable to workplace violence in hospitals that have Emergency Rooms will be greater in number than in aged care hospitals.

For healthcare operations, hospitals with in house laundry facilities should be more conscious of the OSHA regulations relating to heat stress and machine guarding than hospitals that outsource laundry services.

OSHA’s Online eTool for Healthcare

To help determine which regulations for hospitals are applicable, OSHA has created an online Hospital eTool that addresses key focus points of hospital activities. 

Be aware that the content discussed in each module may not be the only hazards, requirements, or controls applicable to each focus point. The onus is always on the employer to comply with all regulations.

OSHA explicitly states employers and safety officers using the eTool must conduct a thorough worksite hazard analysis to determine the full range of hazards to which employees may be exposed, and the full range of controls to protect them from those hazards. 

How to comply with the OSHA General Duty Clause

The OSHA General Duty clause mandates that, in addition to complying with hazard-specific standards, employers must provide a work environment that is ‘free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.’ 

Workplace violence is recognized as a hazard in the healthcare industry and so, employers have the responsibility via the Act to abate the hazard.

Complying with the OSHA General Duty clause can be challenging for hospitals due to work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) caused by manual patient handling. 

MSDs are covered under the OSHA General Duty clause, and OSHA has ergonomics guidance on how to prevent MSDs in the workplace.

How to comply with OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements

With the exception of partially exempt outpatient care centers, the majority of healthcare organizations must comply with OSHA recordkeeping requirements. 

These apply to all recordable work-related injuries and illnesses suffered by employees, plus fatalities, amputations, hospitalizations, or eye loss injuries affecting any member of the on-site workforce, for example contractors or agency staff.

Some OSHA regulations require special recordkeeping. For example, when recording needlestick and sharps injuries, employers may not enter the employee’s name on the OSHA 300 log for privacy reasons. 

There are also privacy requirements for other types of injury recordkeeping. These can be found in the applicable OSHA standards.

Needlestick and sharps injuries in hospitals

Complying with OSHA Training Requirements

OSHA training requirements do vary by standard. 

Some standards – for example, the Personal Protective Equipment standard – mandate that employees are trained in how to use the equipment the first time it is provided to them. 

Other standards, like the Bloodborne Pathogens standard, stipulate annual training. 

Like the HIPAA training requirements, all members of the workforce will require general safety and health training, while some employees will require additional OSHA training specific to their roles (e.g. Latex safely). 

Healthcare organizations need to train all members of the workforce on the meaning of hazard warning signs (HAZCOM), but only a subset of workers require training in acceptable exposure limits for the hazards they are exposed to.

Getting Help to Comply with OSHA Regulations

If you have a responsibility for safety and health in a hospital you can seek from OSHA directly on 800-321-6742 (OSHA). 

In some cases, you might qualify for a free on-site OSHA consultation or a grant towards developing a workplace training program.

Another helpful resource when conducting on-site analysis is the CDC’s Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards.

To comply with OSHA training requirements you can get your team certified with our group training courses for Bloodborne Pathogens certification, HIPPA and other healthcare related training.

Non-Compliance Penalties: OSHA Regulations for Hospitals

Unlike HIPAA, in which penalties are most often issued for violations attributable to willful neglect, OSHA does issue financial penalties when employers fail to enforce OSHA compliance requirements. It is not considered an acceptable excuse that employers “are unaware” of requirements and regulations.

Up to and including September 2023, OSHA issued non-compliance penalties for the following OSHA regulations for hospitals:

  • The bloodborne pathogen standard
  • OSHA’s general requirements
  • The hazard communication standard
  • The exit route standard (maintenance, safeguards, and features)
  • The respiratory protection standard
  • The control of hazardous energy standard
  • OSHA’s form filling requirements
  • The formaldehyde standard
  • The asbestos standard
  • The wiring methods, components, and equipment standard.
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