OSHA Compliance

OSHA Proposes Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed the first federal workplace heat standard to protect millions of Americans from the health risks associated with exposure to extreme heat. Heat is the leading cause of death out of all hazardous weather conditions in the United States and caused an average of 40 workplace fatalities a year between 2011 and 2022. During that period, an estimated 33,890 employees took time off work due to heat-related injuries and illnesses, although the actual number is likely to be significantly higher.

Health-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities are not only weather-related. Employees working in indoor environments can be exposed to dangerous heat levels if their place of work lacks adequate climate controls, especially in areas where there are heat-generating processes such as ovens and furnaces. Some employees, such as pregnant women, face a greater risk from heat exposure and workers of color and migrant workers are more likely to be employed in locations where they are exposed to hazardous heat levels.

The proposed rule requires employers to develop an injury and illness prevention plan, evaluate heat risks in internal and external work environments, and ensure that steps are taken to reduce the risks to workers. Those measures include making drinking water available, ensuring workers get adequate rest breaks, and implementing measures to control indoor heat. Employers must also develop a plan to protect new and returning workers who may not be accustomed to working in high-heat conditions. Training must be provided to workers to ensure that they are aware of heat risks, and procedures must be developed that can be followed in the event of a worker showing symptoms of health-related illness. If those symptoms are observed, immediate action must be taken to assist those workers.

An initial heat trigger of 80°F requires employers to provide drinking water, a break area at indoor and outdoor worksites, acclimatize new and returning workers, and provide paid breaks if needed. When heat levels rise past the second heat trigger of 90°F, employers must give workers a 15-minute paid rest break at least every 2 hours and display warning signs in areas of excessive heat, among other measures.

A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) will soon be published in the Federal Register, although an unofficial copy of the rule is available here and OSHA has published a fact sheet on the heat standard rulemaking.  OSHA welcomes feedback from the public on the proposed rule once it has been published in the Federal Register. After the comment period closes, OSHA anticipates holding a public hearing ahead of the publication of a final rule. The aim is to issue a final rule that ensures workers are protected, hazards are reduced, and that the measures required are feasible for employers.

“Every worker should come home safe and healthy at the end of the day, which is why the Biden-Harris administration is taking this significant step to protect workers from the dangers posed by extreme heat,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su. “As the most pro-worker administration in history, we are committed to ensuring that those doing difficult work in some of our economy’s most critical sectors are valued and kept safe in the workplace.”

The post OSHA Proposes Heat Injury and Illness Prevention Rule appeared first on The HIPAA Journal.

OSHA Publishes 2023 Injury and Illness Data

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published injury and illness data for 2023, which was collected under OSHA’s July 2023 new Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule. The final rule requires some establishments with 100 or more employees to electronically submit data from their OSHA Forms 300 and 301 to OSHA once a year. The data are collected through OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA). The deadline for submitting injury and illness data for 2023 was March 2, 2024; however, if any establishment has missed the deadline, they are still required to submit their data.

Aside from certain low-risk industries, many employers with more than 10 employees are required to maintain records of serious workplace injuries and illnesses. Records must be maintained at the worksite for 5 years, and a summary of the injuries and illnesses recorded over the previous year must be posted each February through April. Copies of the records must be provided to current and former employees or their representatives on request. Fatalities must be reported to OSHA within 8 hours, and severe injuries involving amputation, loss of an eye, or hospitalization must be reported within 24 hours.

Throughout 2023, OSHA has been conducting outreach through webinars, social media, and educational videos to ensure that establishments are aware of their obligations. OSHA is actively enforcing compliance with the reporting requirements by identifying establishments that have failed to submit the required data.

Submitting data to OSHA on injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the workplace allows OSHA to identify the safety and health problems that workers face and determine the extent of workplace illnesses and injuries. Accurate and detailed data are vital to OSHA’s mission to prevent and control workplace hazards, injuries, and illnesses. OSHA reviews the data and intervenes through strategic outreach and enforcement to reduce worker injuries and illnesses. The data improves research into the occurrence, prevention, and control of workplace hazards, injuries, and illness types, and provides the public with information about the risk of injuries and illnesses in specific sectors. Workers and employers can also use the data to make more informed decisions about safety and health in their workplaces.

The published data for 2023 includes illness and injury data collected from more than 375,000 establishments via their submitted OSHA Form 300A Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, data on individual injuries and illnesses collected from employers with 100 or more employees in high-hazard industries, and partial data collected via 850,000 Form 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses and Form 301 Injury and Illness Incident Report records.

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OSHA Issues Final Rule on Employee Representation During OSHA Inspections

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule that confirms that employees are entitled to representation during OSHA inspections, and employee representatives do not have to be employees.

The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act gives employees and employers the right to authorize a representative to accompany OSHA personnel during workplace inspections. The final rule clarifies that workers may authorize another employee to serve as a representative or they may select a non-employee, and if the latter is chosen, the individual must be reasonably necessary to the conduct of an effective and thorough inspection. For instance, the non-employee must have the skills, knowledge, or experience, such as knowledge or experience with hazards or conditions in the workplace or similar workplaces, or language or communication skills. There are no specific qualifications required for employer representatives nor for employee representatives who are employees of the employer.

The update stems from a 2017 court ruling where the court acknowledged that the OSH Act does not limit who can serve as an employee representative and the clarification will help OSHA conduct more effective inspections. The final rule takes effect on May 31, 2024. Up to that date, current regulations apply, which means that OSHA inspectors have the discretion to decide whether a third party can participate in the inspection.

“Worker involvement in the inspection process is essential for thorough and effective inspections and making workplaces safer,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary Doug Parker. “The Occupational Safety and Health Act gives employers and employees equal opportunity for choosing representation during the OSHA inspection process, and this rule returns us to the fair, balanced approach Congress intended.”

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What is an OSHA PEL in Healthcare?

An OSHA PEL in healthcare is the Permissible Exposure Limit allowed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for hazardous substances found in healthcare environments. Most commonly, an OSHA PEL in healthcare will limit employee exposure to hazards such as:

  • Ethylene Oxide
  • Formaldehyde
  • Glutaraldehyde
  • Ionizing Radiation
  • Laboratory Chemicals
  • Antineoplastic Drugs

OSHA sets PELs to protect employees against the health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. Most OSHA PELs in healthcare apply limits to the amount or concentration of a hazardous substance an employee can be exposed to over a period of time.

Typically, an OSHA PEL in healthcare is based on a Time Weighted Average (TWA) for an eight-hour workday or a forty hour work week. Once the exposure limit has been reached, an employee must not be exposed to the hazard for the rest of the day/week.

For some PELs, OSHA also applies Short Term Exposure Limits (STELs) for a higher level of exposure to a hazardous substance than allowed by a TWA for a shorter period of time.  For example, the OSHA PEL for exposure to formaldehyde (OSHA §1910.1048(c)) states:


TWA: The employer shall assure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of formaldehyde which exceeds 0.75 parts formaldehyde per million parts of air (0.75 ppm) as an 8-hour TWA.


STEL: The employer shall assure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of formaldehyde which exceeds two parts formaldehyde per million parts of air (2 ppm) as a 15-minute STEL.

Potential Changes to OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits

The current list of OSHA PELs for hazardous substances and laboratory chemicals can be found in Annotated Tables Z-1, Z-2, and Z-3. The OSHA PEL for ionizing radiation can be found in OSHA §1910.1096. OSHA defers to NIOSH guidelines for occupational exposure to antineoplastic drugs due to the number of neoplastic drugs and the different levels of risk between unopened, intact tablets and capsules and injectable drugs – which usually require extensive preparation.

However, in the preamble to the Annotated Tables, OSHA acknowledges many of its PELs are out of date because they were adopted after the creation of the Administration in 1971 and have not been updated since. Although the current list is the list against which OSHA compliance is assessed, OSHA advises businesses to refer to Cal/OSHA’s more stringent PELs and NIOSH’s “Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards” and apply the lowest permissible exposure limit.

The reason why there may be changes to OSHA’s PELs is that the Administration has been looking at ways to keep pace with changes to chemical structures and the hazards that exist because of the changes. Acknowledging that the one-chemical-at-a-time approach is not effective, OSHA has proposed adopting a method similar to the EU’s REACH program which moves the burden of developing PELs for hazardous substances from the government to the manufacturer.

How to Comply with an OSHA PEL in Healthcare

The purpose of an OSHA PEL in healthcare is to keep employees safe. If a highly trained employee develops an illness or health condition due to over-exposure to a hazardous substance, the highly trained employee will no longer be able to provide a service for an employer.

Therefore, it is advisable to conduct a risk assessment for all hazardous substances that employees may be exposed to and, where a risk of exposure exists, implement engineering controls, conduct regular air monitoring, and provide PPE and employee training to comply with the OSHA PEL.

Healthcare organizations can be fined – and have been fined – for violating OSHA permissible exposure limits in healthcare; although, over the past year, more healthcare organizations have been cited for failing to communicate hazards than exceeding permissible exposure limits.

If your organization has concerns it is failing to comply with an OSHA PEL in healthcare, or needs help organizing a training or hazard communication program, you should speak with an OSHA compliance expert or approach OSHA directly to see if you qualify for a free onsite consultation.

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OSHA Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements Explained in Two Webinars

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is hosting two webinars in February that explain the OSHA recordkeeping and reporting requirements. The first, this Wednesday, will explain the process for  submitting workplace injury and illness data through OSHA’s online Injury Tracking Application.

The second webinar, on February 28, will be an overview of the OSHA recordkeeping and reporting requirements that will include information about the most common recordkeeping and reporting mistakes made by employers and provide tips on how employers can effectively audit their recordkeeping program.

What Are the OSHA Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements?

The OSHA recordkeeping and reporting requirements are covered in §1904 of the OSHA Standards. This standard requires all qualifying employers to maintain a log (Form 300) of serious work-related injuries and illnesses (as defined in §1904.4) and post a summary of the log (Form 300A) in a conspicuous place in the workplace by February 1 of the following year.

In addition, the information on the summary Form 300A must be submitted to OSHA. Since 2017, all qualifying employers under Federal OSHA have had to submit the information via OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application which allows information to be uploaded manually, via a CSV file, or via an API. The 2024 deadline for submitting data to OSHA is March 2, 2024.

Who is Required to Comply with the OSHA Requirements?

Since January 2024, all employers with 250 or more employees are required to maintain a log of serious workplace injuries and illnesses and submit a summary to OSHA each year. Employers with 20-249 employees in certain industries with traditionally high rates of workplace injuries and illnesses are subject to the same OSHA recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

However, all employers under OSHA jurisdiction of any size and of any activity must report workplace fatalities (within 8 hours) and any injuries that result in an in-patient hospitalization, an amputation, or the loss of an eye (within 24 hours). Employers that fail to comply with any of the OSHA recordkeeping and reporting requirements can be fined up to $16,131 per violation.

How the Webinars Should Help

According to OSHA, the administrative burden of complying with the annual reporting requirements should be less than one hour per year. However, many employers have reported that the process of calculating the required injury and illness incidence rates, transferring the data to Form 300A, and uploading the information via the Injury Tracking Application can take longer.

OSHA hopes to reduce the administrative burden by explaining in its webinars how best to use the Injury Tracking Application to upload 2023 data  and how to avoid the most common recordkeeping and reporting mistakes that can extend the time it takes to upload the data or require the data to be resubmitted.

OSHA Webinar Information

February 14, 9-10:15 a.m. EST: This presentation will explain the process for electronically submitting 2023 workplace injury and illness data through OSHA’s online Injury Tracking Application.

February 28, 9-10:15 a.m. EST: This presentation will be an overview of OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements and address common mistakes made by employers, incentive and disincentive programs, and tips on how an employer can effectively audit their recordkeeping program.

Employers interested in learning more about the OSHA recordkeeping and reporting requirements can register for both free webinars via this link.

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Coalition of Attorneys General Petition OSHA to Adopt Emergency Temporary Standard for Extreme Heat

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been petitioned by a coalition of 11 state attorneys general to implement an Emergency Temporary Standard to protect workers from excessive heat exposure on the job. The coalition is led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who was joined by the state attorneys general from Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that extreme summer heat is becoming much more common, and climatologists predict that extreme heat events will increase in the coming years due to climate change. National Center for Health Statistics data shows that 1,700 people died from heat-related injuries in 2022 compared to 454 in 2000 and each year, 170,000 workers are made sick, injured, or killed due to exposure to excessive heat in the workplace.

Employers can’t change the weather but they can prevent injuries from extreme heat in the workplace. Some U.S. states have laws governing exposure or extreme heat in the workplace, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to provide a place of employment free from recognized hazards, but there is no federal law that specifically applies to extreme heat exposure. OHSA has uploaded information to its website on “Working in Outdoor and Indoor Heat Environments,” which educates employers and individuals about the dangers of working in hot environments, but the state attorneys general want OHSA to take action.

The state attorneys general wrote to Julie Su, Acting Secretary of Labor, and Douglas L. Parker, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health at the United States Department of Labor calling for them to promulgate an emergency temporary standard for extreme heat beginning May 1, 2024, which should cover, at a minimum, farmworkers, and construction workers. OSHA has previously acknowledged that the enforcement of heat hazards under the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act is difficult as there is no defined heat standard. It is therefore necessary for OSHA to prove on a case-by-case basis that a heat hazard existed in the workplace when the injury or fatality occurred. Employers have also not been provided with specific guidance on what constitutes a heat hazard under the Act. An emergency temporary standard would give OSHA stronger enforcement power and would provide employers with specific requirements and guidelines for protecting workers from extreme heat.

OSHA has been urged to issue an emergency temporary standard for occupational heat exposure that applies when the heat index reaches 80°F, after which point there are increased rates of serious heat-related illnesses. In an announcement about the petition, Attorney General James listed 5 cases of heat-related deaths in the workplace in the United States in the summer of 2023. The attorneys general are also calling for Congress to pass – and President Biden to sign – the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness, Injury, and Fatality Prevention Act, which directs OSHA to establish short- and long-term measures to protect workers from extreme heat. Asunción Valdivia, was a farmworker who died of heatstroke after picking grapes for 10 hours in extreme heat.

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What are the OSHA Regulations for Hospitals?

The OSHA regulations for hospitals consist of all applicable common workplace safety and health standards and any that apply to the nature of services provided by the hospital or its operations. For example:

Common Workplace Safety and Health Standards may include:

  • 1910.22 General Requirements
  • 1910.25 Stairways
  • 1910.35 Means of Egress
  • 1910.38 Emergency Action Plan

Specific Healthcare Safety and Health Standards may include:

  • 1910.1096 Ionization Radiation
  • 1910.1030 Bloodborne Pathogens
  • 1910 Subpart I Personal Protective Equipment
  • 1910 Subpart Z Toxic and Hazardous Substances

Healthcare Operations Safety and Health Standards may include:

  • 1910.95 Noise Exposure
  • 1910.303 General Electrical Requirements
  • 1910 Subpart J General Environmental Controls
  • 1910 Subpart O Machinery and Machine Guarding

In addition, the OSHA regulations for hospitals include all applicable administrative and recordkeeping standards promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or state OSHA Plan.

Which OSHA Regulations for Hospital are Applicable?

The challenge of OSHA compliance for hospitals is working out which OSHA regulations are applicable. For example, there will be more threats to safety and health attributable to workplace violence in hospitals with ER departments than there will be in maternity hospitals.

With regards to healthcare operations, hospitals with inhouse laundry facilities will have to be more conscious of the OSHA regulations for hospitals relating to heat stress and machine guarding than hospitals that outsource laundry services or that only provide out-patient facilities.

How OSHA’s E-Tool for Healthcare can Help

To help determine which OSHA regulations for hospitals are applicable, the Administration has created an online e-tool that covers fourteen focus points of hospital activities. It is important to be aware that the hazards, requirements, and controls discussed in each module may not be the only hazards, requirements, or controls applicable to each focus point.

OSHA reminds employers and safety officers using the e-tool it is necessary to conduct a thorough worksite hazard analysis to determine the full range of hazards to which members of the workforce are exposed and the full range of controls to protect members of the workforce from those hazards. In this respect, the CDC’s “Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards” can also be a valuable resource.

Complying with the OSHA General Duty Clause

The OSHA General Duty clause requires that, in addition to complying with hazard-specific standards, employers must provide a work environment “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” Workplace violence is a recognized hazard in the healthcare industry and as such, employers have the responsibility via the Act to abate the hazard.

Complying with the OSHA General Duty clause can also be a challenge for hospitals due to the issue of work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) caused by manually lifting, moving, and repositioning patients. MSDs are also covered by the OSHA General Duty clause, and OSHA has published guidance on preventing MSDs in the workplace to help avoid injuries of this type.

Complying with OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements

With the exception of partially exempt outpatient care centers, most healthcare organizations have to comply with OSHA recordkeeping requirements. These apply to all recordable work-related injuries and illnesses suffered by employed members of the workforce, and fatalities, amputations, hospitalizations, or eye loss injuries affecting any member of the workforce.

Some OSHA regulations for hospitals have special recordkeeping requirements. For example, when recording needlestick and sharps injuries (OSHA standard §1904.8), employers must not enter the employee’s name on the OSHA 300 log. There are also privacy requirements for other types of injury recordkeeping. These can be found in OSHA standard §1904.29(b)(6) through §1904.29(b)(9).

Complying with OSHA Training Requirements

The OSHA training requirements vary by standard. Some standards (i.e., the “Personal Protective Equipment” standard) require that employees are trained in how to use the equipment the first time it is provided for them. Other standards (i.e., the “Bloodborne Pathogens” standard) require annual training. Note: annual training on some standards may be required by other agencies. For example, annual emergency action plan training is a condition of participation in Medicare.

Like the HIPAA training requirements, all members of the workforce will require general safety and health training (i.e., cleaning up spills safely), while some members of the workforce will require further OSHA training specific to their roles (i.e., using ethylene oxide safely). Similarly, healthcare organizations need to train all members of the workforce on the meaning of hazard warning signs, but only some on permissible exposure limits for the hazards they are exposed to.

Penalties for Non-Compliance with the OSHA Regulations for Hospitals

Unlike HIPAA, in which penalties are most often issued for violations attributable to willful neglect, OSHA issues financial penalties when employers “should have known” about the OSHA compliance requirements. In the year to September 2023, OSHA issued financial penalties for non-compliance with the following OSHA regulations for hospitals:

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

The failure to train employees is a common factor in OSHA enforcement action. In 2013, the Atlanta Health Careers Institute in Georgia was fined $62,000 for violations of the bloodborne pathogen standard, with $60,000 of the total being attributable to the employer failing to train workforce members on the hazards and precautions.

Previously, the New York Hospital of Queens was fined $112,500 for violations of the formaldehyde standard – a large part of which was attributable to the failure of the hospital to provide employees with appropriate training – while in the last year, two hospitals have been fined for just the failure to provide training to members of the workforce.

Help to Comply with OSHA Healthcare Regulations

If you have a responsibility for safety and health in a hospital, and you are not sure about which regulations apply to your organization, you can get help from multiple sources. You can download our OSHA compliance checklist, seek advice from an OSHA compliance expert, or contact OSHA directly on 800-321-6742 (OSHA). In some circumstances, you may qualify for a free on-site OSHA consultation or a grant towards developing a workplace training program.

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OSHA Forms Alliances with Organizations to Improve Workplace Safety and Health in Healthcare

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced that five organizations and businesses nationwide have signed or renewed alliance agreements with OSHA to provide workers with access to accurate and up-to-date information on their legal and fundamental rights, and guidance and training resources on workplace safety and health. By forming alliances, these businesses and organizations can better focus on hazards in ways that are specific to their industries and workplaces. These organizations and businesses will work with OSHA on initiatives in Missouri, Kansas, North Carolina, Montana, and Nebraska.

The agreement between OSHA Billings Area Office and the Marsh McLennan Agency Northwest Region (MMA NWR) will provide around 10,000 MMA NWR clients and others with information, guidance, and access to training resources to help them protect the health and safety of workers in healthcare and other industries. The aim of the alliance is to develop effective training and education programs to reduce and prevent exposure to hazards specific to each industry and help ensure that employees understand the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.

The agreement between the OSHA Region VII, Kansas City, Omaha, Saint Louis, Wichita Area Offices, and the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) is focused on sharing information about workplace safety in Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas. Employers and employees will be provided with information, guidance, and access to training resources that will help them protect workers by reducing and preventing exposure to safety and health hazards, and improve education about workers’ rights and employer responsibilities under the OSH Act.

The alliance will share information on OSHA’s National/Regional/Local initiatives, occupational safety and health laws and standards, information on the recognition and prevention of workplace hazards, and will promote safety and health best practices. Forums, roundtable discussions, or stakeholder meetings on safety and health hazards in the healthcare industry will be convened or participated in to help forge innovative solutions in the workplace or to provide input on safety and health issues. OSHA will provide technical support and health and safety information to help with the development of effective training and education programs for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and their employers.

The other alliances are focused on promoting workers’ rights for Mexican Nationals in Missouri and Kansas, sharing information about safe excavation and trenching work in Missouri, and sharing safety best practices between OSHA and the Navy Fleet Readiness Center East in North Carolina.

“The most effective way to protect workers is for every employer to embrace safety and health as a core value in their workplaces,” said Doug Kalinowski, director of Cooperative and State Programs at OSHA. “These alliances from across the country and in various industries show that these employers have made worker safety and health a core value and are leaders in workplace safety.”

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How to Become OSHA Compliant

The summarized way to become OSHA compliant is to establish which OSHA standards apply to your business, conduct a risk assessment to identify threats to safety and health, and abate identified threats as necessary.

What is OSHA Compliance?

OSHA compliance is complying with all applicable workplace standards promulgated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration or an OSHA-approved state plan to promote safe and healthy workplaces. Most businesses are required to comply with “General Industry” standards, but there are separate standards for the agriculture, maritime, and construction industries.

The OSHA standards for General Industry cover everything from safe working surfaces and workplace ventilation to exposure limits for hazardous substances and chemicals. There are also standards governing hazard communication, injury and illness recordkeeping, and workforce training. The failure to comply with any applicable safety, health, or administrative standard is a violation of OSHA.

What Happens if You Violate OSHA?

What happens if you violate OSHA depends on the nature of the violation and its outcome. OSHA has a four-tier penalty structure which, at the lowest level, allows inspectors to cite a business for an OSHA violation and give the business time to abate it. If the reason for the violation is not abated in the stated time – or the violation is more serious in nature – OSHA can impose financial penalties.

How to Become OSHA Compliant - HIPAAJournal.com

If a business willfully neglects to mitigate threats to safety and health to an acceptable level – and a member of the workforce suffers a fatal injury as a result – OSHA can refer the case to the Department of Justice to pursue a criminal conviction. If found guilty, negligent employers and safety managers can be fined up to $1 million and sentenced to up to twenty years in jail.

How to Become OSHA Compliant in More Detail

In the introduction, the way to become OSHA compliant was summarized in three stages. While this is an accurate explanation of how to become OSHA compliant, some businesses may require more details. OSHA recommends a seven step process for businesses in the “General Industry” category to become OSHA compliant which consists of:

Identify Standards that Apply to Most Businesses

These include standards relating to safe working surfaces, workplace ventilation, fire safety, exit routes, and hazard communication. Businesses should read these standards, conduct a risk assessment to ensure the standards are being complied with, and implement measures to correct violations and mitigate threats to workforce safety and health.

Identify Standards that Apply to Your Business

For business in the healthcare industry, standards to consider could include the bloodborne pathogens standard, the ionizing radiation standard, and the exposure to formaldehyde standard. It will also be necessary for businesses in the healthcare industry to familiarize themselves with OSHA’s permissible exposure limits for hazardous substances.

Survey the Workplace for Additional Hazards

All organizations have to comply with OSHA’s General Duty clause which requires employers to provide a work environment free from recognized hazards not otherwise covered by an OSHA standard. In the healthcare industry, this clause would cover activities such as safe patient handling, protection from infectious diseases, and preventing workplace violence.

Develop a Workplace Safety and Health Plan

Becoming OSHA compliant is one thing. Remaining OSHA compliant is another. Therefore businesses need to develop a workplace safety and health plan which schedules frequent inspections, includes a process for members of the workforce to report hazards to safety managers , and delegates the responsibilities for documenting and abating reported hazards.

Train Members of the Workforce

Some OSHA standards require members of the workforce to undergo OSHA training before being exposed to a hazard for the first time, while others require initial training AND annual refresher training – for example, the bloodborne pathogens standard. All workforce training should be documented and retained in the event of a subsequent OSHA inspection.

Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Posting

In addition to the documentation of hazard reports and workforce training, businesses are required to keep records of all workplace injuries and illnesses, submit injury and illness data to OSHA annually, report fatalities and severe injuries, and post copies of citations when issued. Note: some State-approved OSHA Plans have more stringent reporting requirements.

Ask for Compliance Assistance when Necessary

The final step in the process to become OSHA compliant is to ask for help if you need it. There are multiple resources on the Help pages of OSHA’s website and third party resources that can help businesses become OSHA compliant. Alternatively, you can call your local OSHA Office to see if your business qualifies for a free onsite consultation.

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