Is your office OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) compliant? Few physicians realize that OSHA violations can result in significant penalties. Fox attorneys recently advised a medical practice cited by OSHA after an inspection of one of its offices. In defending the citation, we asked the OSHA inspector what actions had precipitated the inspection as there had been no injuries, employee reports or other typical triggers for an OSHA inspection. He learned the inspection came about as a result of a “Local Emphasis Program” by the Philadelphia OSHA office.
Under the Local Emphasis Program, the Philadelphia OSHA office is using a list of companies by Standard Industrial Code (SIC) and randomly choosing entities for inspection in connection with blood-borne pathogen compliance. Violations of the blood-borne pathogen regulations are one of the top 10 OSHA penalty producers in the United States.
The blood-borne pathogen requirements under OSHA include: the development and implementation of an Exposure Control Plan; determinations of exposure of employees to items; use of safety-engineered needles and other engineering and work practice controls to minimize exposures; and training for new employees, and then annually for other employees, with regard to the various programs that may be required. Once on site, OSHA inspectors also check for other violations, including, for example, posting of the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) regarding any chemicals that may be used in the office, such as those utilized to sterilize instruments.
Be aware that in OSHA’s view, the physicians are “employees.” Thus, even if the staff are not exposed to needles, scalpels or other similar devices, the doctor is, which is sufficient for requiring compliance with the OSHA regulations.