Monday, June 15, 2015

Are Beverages at Nurse's Stations Regulated by OSHA?

Beverages at your Nurse’s Station

We have had some questions asking whether it is against OSHA regulations to keep a covered beverage at a nurse's station.

OSHA does not have a general prohibition against the consumption of beverages at nursing stations. However, OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard prohibits the consumption of food and drink in areas in which work involving exposure or potential exposure to blood or other potentially infectious material takes place, or where the potential for contamination of work surfaces exists [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(2)(ix)]. Also, under 29 CFR 1910.141(g)(2), employees shall not be allowed to consume food or beverages in any area exposed to a toxic material. While you may want to have beverages at the nursing station that have a lid or cover, the container may also become contaminated, resulting in unsuspected contamination of the hands.

You must evaluate your workplace to determine in which locations food or beverages may potentially become contaminated and must prohibit your employees from eating or drinking in those areas. You may determine that a particular nurse's station or other location is separated from work areas subject to contamination and therefore is so situated that it is not reasonable under the circumstances to anticipate that occupational exposure through the contamination of food and beverages or their containers is likely. You may allow employees to consume food and beverages in that area, although no OSHA standard specifically requires that you permit this. OSHA standards set minimum safety and health requirements and do not prohibit you from adopting more stringent requirements.