What is OSHA, what is its mission and how does it protect you? OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The Mission of OSHA is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance ” (OSHA). This agency administered the OSHA Act of 1970 which comprises of standards or rules for workers and employers and penalties for those who do not follow the established guidelines. This Act sets many standards across a multitude of industries; more importantly there are sets of established designed specifically for the medical field. The guidelines cover standard precautions, personal protective equipment (PPE) and handling contaminated waste to name a few. The standard precautions are “a set of procedures recognized by the CDC to reduce the chance of transmitting infectious microorganisms in any health care setting” (Goucher, 193).
The universal rule of these procedures is to assume everybody has some kind of microorganism. There are a multitude of safeguards in place to keep medical employees and patients from coming into contact from blood or other bodily fluids. Some of these precautions include the following: Proper hand washing and use of alcohol based hand rubs. Proper hand washing with soap and water should be used after each contact with patient. An “alcohol-based hand rub is the preferred method for decontaminating hands, except when hands are visibly soiled (e.g., dirt, blood, body fluids), or after caring for patients with known or suspected infectious diarrhea (e.g. Clostridium difficile, norovirus), in which case soap and water should be used (CDC).” PPE involves special equipment worn by medical staff for protection against infectious materials.
PPE involves gloves, gowns, goggles and face shields for area where splattering might occur (Goucher 193). Gloves that are latex free must be made available for patients or staff that may have a latex allergy. Gloves must be worn when coming into contact with blood or any other bodily fluid. Due to Pathogens and Viruses that may be transmitted to staff and patients it is important to strictly follow PPE precautions by following proper donning, removal and disposal of PPE. Employers who fail to make personal protection equipment available to their employees are in violation of the OSHA Act if 1970 standards. Ensuring that the handling and disposal of contaminated waste properly is an OSHA requirement. Improper storage or disposal of medical waste that can be pathogenic, infectious or cause physical injury.
There are many different areas contamination can be found such as porous and non-porous surfaces such as counters, exam chairs and floors and should be cleaned properly with approved germicides or bleach diluted with water in accordance with infection control guidelines. Needle sticks are a common injury caused by improper handling of needles (Bilski 2005). “Needle stick injuries in healthcare workers are common. They are one of the main ways of transmitting large numbers of pathogenic micro-organisms in healthcare institutions” (Bilski 2005). To reduce the risk of a needle stick in the work place you should never re-cap a needle and all needles and sharps should be placed into approved sharps containers immediately after use.
In conclusion, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is in place to insure employees and employers are setting and enforcing the standards by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. The OSHA Act of 1970 protects employees and employers by provide guidelines and precautions for health and safety in the workplace. These guidelines include standard precautions, PPE and the of handling contaminated wastes are just a few ways we are protected. These practices have been implemented by OSHA and is a requirement for all employers to insure employee and patient safety.
[ (www.osha.gov, 2013) ]
Bilski. (2005). Needlestick injuries in nurses. Retrieved from Kaplan online library: http://ehis.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/resultsadvanced?sid=19c9bb99-93d3-4aa2-921e-ddfebf889eb2%40sessionmgr12&vid=9&hid=6&bquery=AB+(handling+AND+contaminated+AND+waste+AND+%22in%22+AND+medical)&bdata=JmNsaTA9RlQmY2x2MD1ZJnR5cGU9MSZzaXRlPWVkcy1saXZ CDC. (2011, May). Guide to Infection Prevention for Outpatient Settings: Minimum Expectations for Safe Care.