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  • Allison Stalker

OSHA Regulations Unique to Hospitals

Updated: Aug 30, 2023




The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides regulations for all industries formulated to protect the employees. There are many regulations that are common amongst various industries. Hospitals, however, must adhere to additional regulations specific to their industry. These regulations are designed to not only protect the employees, but also the patients. The following is a look at some of these unique hospital regulations.


Bloodborne Pathogens


OSHA revised the standards for bloodborne pathogens in 2001 to protect employees and patients from illnesses including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Employees are often exposed to blood and other potentially infectious materials because of an ineffective Exposure Control Plan (ECP). All hospitals must maintain and annually review a written ECP. This document must be made available to all employees. Additionally, appropriate training, during working hours, must be given to all employees with occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens.


Latex Allergy


Due to the frequent use of latex products, such as latex gloves, in the hospital industry, OSHA has developed regulations for latex allergies. Numerous employees in the hospital industry, including non-traditional workers such as housekeepers and laundry workers, are exposed to latex products. OSHA estimates that 8-12% of health care workers are latex sensitive and could experience reactions including rashes, hives, nasal and sinus symptoms, eye symptoms, asthma, and even shock. In order to protect employees, alternative products must be made available to the employees and areas containing latex dust must be kept clean.


Needlesticks/Sharps


Many hospital employees are in contact with needles, scalpels, sutures, and other sharp devices. An injury from any of these devices may expose a worker to bloodborne pathogens. OSHA provides regulations on properly handling and disposing of needles and sharps in order to reduce the chance of exposure.


The number of OSHA regulations hospitals must adhere to is vast and can possibly become overwhelming. OSHA provides a Hospital eTool on its website to aid hospital administration in finding regulations that apply and also learning safe work practices for employees and patients.


To access the Hospital eTool, click here!


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