Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Dragons of Healthcare Workplace Safety: HSC, SDS and GHS

The Hazardous Communication Standard, SDS and GHS Requirements
 & How To Properly Implement Them.
 HCSI OSHA Training

We at HCSI train healthcare professionals and their staff members on the Federal OSHA requirements for medical providers. Even though our training covers all required areas such and The Hazard Communication Standard, Safety Data Sheets, GHS labeling rules, etc., we occasionally get a frantic call from a confused practice manager or compliance officer after a friendly visit by an OSHA inspector.  Even though they were trained on these subjects, they invariably did not take the time to implement the training and translate it into the preparation of their site specific required safety and regulatory documentation. Once again, the classic saying, perhaps older then the dragons of ancient lore, rears it's ugly head... "If it wasn't documented, it never happened."
All hazardous chemicals found in the workplace/practice must be identified and a Master List must be compiled containing the names of products, their manufacturers and their chemical components. This Master List can be compiled from information gained from a list of OSHA regulated substances such as the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) [previously called Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) which are now obsolete and superseded by the GHS Global Harmonized Standard implemented in 2013 replacing MSDSs with SDSs] are forms generally provided by chemical manufacturers that convey hazard-related information on chemicals and hazardous substances you use in your workplace.  It is important that employees know how to interpret the information found on each SDS, which describes the chemical composition, health and physical hazards and safe handling and emergency procedures for all products containing hazardous substances. 

In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that SDSs be readily available to all employees for potentially harmful substances handled in the workplace under the Hazard Communication regulation. The SDSs are also required to be made available to local fire departments and local and state emergency planning officials under Section 311 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The American Chemical Society defines Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Numbers (CAS numbers) which provide a unique number for each chemical and are also used internationally in SDSs.

In 2012, the US adopted the 16 section Safety Data Sheet to replace Material Safety Data Sheets. This became effective on December 1, 2013. These new Safety Data Sheets comply with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). By June 1, 2015, employers were required to have their workplace labeling and hazard communication programs updated as necessary – including all MSDSs replaced with SDS-formatted documents.

Many companies offer the service of collecting, or writing and revising, data sheets to ensure they are up to date and available for their subscribers or users. Some jurisdictions impose an explicit duty of care that each SDS be regularly updated, usually every three to five years. However, when new information becomes available, the SDS must be revised without delay.

Hazard Communication Standard

The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) provides a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets. This update will also help reduce trade barriers and result in productivity improvements for American businesses that regularly handle, store, and use hazardous chemicals while providing cost savings for American businesses that periodically update safety data sheets and labels for chemicals covered under the hazard communication standard.

In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable/(i.e. training provided) to workers. OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires the development and dissemination of such information:

  • Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers;
  • All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately. 
Major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard 
  • Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
  • Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
  • Information and training: Employers are required to train workers on the new labels elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.
GHS Pictograms

As of June 1, 2015, the HCS requires that new SDSs to be in a uniform format, and include the section numbers, the headings, and associated information under the headings below:

Section 1, Identification includes product identifier; manufacturer or distributor name, address, phone number; emergency phone number; recommended use; restrictions on use.
Section 2, Hazard(s) identification includes all hazards regarding the chemical; required label elements.
Section 3, Composition/information on ingredients includes information on chemical ingredients; trade secret claims.
Section 4, First-aid measures includes important symptoms/effects, acute, delayed; required treatment.
Section 5, Fire-fighting measures lists suitable extinguishing techniques, equipment; chemical hazards from fire.
Section 6, Accidental release measures lists emergency procedures; protective equipment; proper methods of containment and cleanup.
Section 7, Handling and storage lists precautions for safe handling and storage, including incompatibilities.
Section 8, Exposure controls/personal protection lists OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs); ACGIH Threshold Limit Values (TLVs); and any other exposure limit used or recommended by the chemical manufacturer, importer, or employer preparing the SDS where available as well as appropriate engineering controls; personal protective equipment (PPE).
Section 9, Physical and chemical properties lists the chemical's characteristics.
Section 10, Stability and reactivity lists chemical stability and possibility of hazardous reactions.
Section 11, Toxicological information includes routes of exposure; related symptoms, acute and chronic effects; numerical measures of toxicity.
Section 12, Ecological information*
Section 13, Disposal considerations*
Section 14, Transport information*
Section 15, Regulatory information*
Section 16, Other information, includes the date of preparation or last revision.
*Note: Since other Agencies regulate this information, OSHA will not be enforcing Sections 12 through 15 (29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2)).
Employers, please remember to periodically review and update your hazardous substance/chemicals Master List and ensure your SDSs reflect those changes and are readily accessible, readable and also understandable to your employees as well as any fire department personnel, inspectors and/or government officials. Annual OSHA training is also required to ensure your staff is educated, aware and updated on these and other vital workplace safety issues.

Protecting your employees, patients and your office's regulatory reputation is an ongoing process requiring diligence and oversight. You can not simply take an apprentice course in the basics of fending off dragons in the hopes of never encountering one of the dreaded beasts. The knighthood of compliance (OSHA or otherwise) requires the quest of discovering your office's site specific situations, knowing your procedures along with the discipline of documentation and the situational awareness to defend against the dragons of workplace safety and regulatory compliance. 


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Monday, February 12, 2018

MIPS Reporting Deadlines Fast Approaching: 10 Things to Do and Know


MIPS Reporting Deadlines Fast Approaching:

10 Things to Do and Know

Deadlines are fast approaching if you plan to submit data for the 2017 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) performance period. Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your data. Submit early and often. The two key dates are:

Now is the time to act. Here are the top 10 things you need to do and know if you are an eligible clinician. This list focuses on reporting via the data submission feature, not on group reporting via the CMS Web Interface and not on individual reporting on Quality measures via claims submission data.

Claims Data Submission

If you plan to submit 2017 data for the Quality performance category via claims, you must do so by March 1, 2018.
Note: If you’re not sure if you are required to report for MIPS, enter your National Provider Identifier (NPI) in the MIPS Lookup Tool to find out whether you need to report. Additionally, if you know you are in a MIPS APM or Advanced APM, you can use the APM Lookup Tool.

1) Visit and click on the “Sign-In” tab to use the data submission feature.

2) Check that your data are ready to submit. You can submit data for the Quality, Improvement Activities, and Advancing Care Information performance categories.

3) Have your CMS Enterprise Identity Management (EIDM) credentials ready, or get an EIDM account if you don’t have one. An EIDM account gives you a single ID to use across multiple CMS systems.

4) Sign in to the Quality Payment Program data submission feature using your EIDM account.

5) Begin submitting your data early. This will give you time to familiarize yourself with the data submission feature and prepare your data.

6) The data submission feature will recognize you and connect your NPI to associated Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs).


  • You can use your EIDM account to report for multiple NPIs associated with your EIDM.
  • If you’ve reported for legacy programs like the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), you already have an EIDM account.
  • You can also use the EIDM Guide to get started.
7) Group practices:
  • A practice can report as a group or individually for each eligible clinician in the practice. You can switch from group to individual reporting, or vice versa, at any time.
  • The data submission feature will save all the data you enter for both individual eligible clinicians and a group, and CMS will use the data that results in a higher final score to calculate an individual MIPS-eligible clinician’s payment adjustment.
8) You can update your data up to the March 31 deadline. The data submission feature doesn’t have a “save” or “submit” button. Instead, it automatically updates as you enter data. You’ll see your initial scores by performance category, indicating that CMS has received your data. If your file doesn’t upload, you’ll get a message noting that issue.

9) You can submit data as often as you like. The data submission feature will help you identify any underperforming measures and any issues with your data. Starting your data entry early gives you time to resolve performance and data issues before the March 31 deadline.

10) For step-by-step instructions on how to submit MIPS data, check out this video and fact sheet.

If you are in an ACO or other APM, make sure you are working with your ACO or APM to make sure they have any patient information they need to report. Remember you need to report on Advancing Care Information measures on your own.

Questions about your participation status or MIPS data submission? 
Contact the Quality Payment Program Service Center via:
Phone: 1-866-288-8292  (TTY: 1-877-715-6222)

Source(s): https://www.hcsiinc.com

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Protecting Doctors from Themselves

While practicing medicine, doctors must
protect their own integrity and reputation

It is a story that we were all shocked to hear about. USA Gymnastics Medical Professional and his inappropriate conduct with his patients and others. It is situations like this that make patients either grateful for or suspicious of the doctor they have.

Reality Time

When something so dramatic and public as the USA Gymnastics situation happens, it has numerous effects:
  1. Patients who are victims of such horrific acts may develop the courage to speak out and tell their story.
  2. Some people will begin looking for this type of situation in their life and find it, even if it does not exist.
  3. There are people who are looking for the social media spotlight and begin making accusations in order to gain attention.
What Can a Doctor Do?

It is vital that a doctor take appropriate steps to protect him or herself from a possibly career ending situation:
  • Continually communicate with the patient throughout their visit. They should know what the doctor is doing and why.
  • Have written policies and procedures in place that focus on harassment and inappropriate conduct within the office. These policies should also include appropriate interactions with patients. This training should include ALL staff members including doctors and be done annually as well being thoroughly documented.
  • Create a culture within the healthcare office of acting professionally and being current with all compliance laws.
  • Communicate with patients that if at anytime they do not feel comfortable with the doctor or other staff members, that they are welcome to have an additional person of the same gender in the room during their visit.
  • If the doctor does not feel comfortable being alone with the patient, then he or she should request and additional person (e.g. nurse or physician assistant) be present during the visit.
Possible Consequences

If a doctor is accused of some inappropriate behavior with a patient, then that doctor's reputation could be irrevocably damaged. It does not matter if the accusation has any truth to it, people will remember and the damage is done. It is best for the doctor to protect him or herself and avoid even the slightest hint of inappropriate behavior.

This type of situation cannot be taken lightly. Many doctors push away training, especially HR training, as inconvenient and a time waster. They do not understand that HR and other training's are in place for their protection. Documented HR and conduct training would play a key role in protecting a doctor and the reputation of the practice.

It is completely understandable that doctors want to focus only on practicing medicine, but they do not need to put themselves and their career at risk when doing so.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

OSHA Employer Reminder - Post Injury and Illness Summaries Now Through April

Employer Posting Requirements for OSHA Form 300A and Avoiding Frequent Employer Mistakes

HCSI reminds healthcare and other non-exempt employers of their obligation to post a copy of OSHA's Form 300A, which summarizes job-related injuries and illnesses logged during 2017. The summary must be displayed each year between February 1 and April 30 in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees and those in certain low-hazard industries are exempt from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordkeeping and posting requirements. Visit OSHA's Recordkeeping Rule webpage for more information on recordkeeping requirements.

February 1 is the deadline for annual posting of the OSHA 300A summary of workplace injuries and illnesses. This annual requirement should not be confused with OSHA’s new electronic recordkeeping rule. The February 1st deadline is only about the internal posting of 300A data for your employees’ eyes. The electronic recordkeeping rule is a new requirement for certain employers to submit the annual summary forms through an electronic portal.

All employers that are required by OSHA to maintain a copy of OSHA's Form 300A, that at any time in the past calendar year had 10 or more employees, are required to complete and post OSHA Form 300A (unless they belong to certain low-risk industries that are exempt). Examples of low-risk, exempt industries include clothing retail stores, publishers, banks and investment services. A full list of exempt industries can be found on the OSHA website. 

OSHA Form 300A is a summary of all serious work-related illnesses and injuries (including needlesticks and bloodbourne pathogens exposure) suffered by employees in the previous year. Even if no incidents or injuries occurred in 2017, employers that meet the requirement must post the form. Again, OSHA Form 300A must be posted in a visible location and must be displayed where notices to employees are commonly posted and must remain posted from February 1, 2018 through April 30, 2018.
OSHA Form 300A derives from information kept in the OSHA 300 Log. Employers should complete and post the Summary (OSHA Form 300A) using information recorded on the log but do not post the Log (OSHA Form 300). Employers should consult with legal counsel or contact OSHA directly regarding any specific questions about how to comply with these requirements. Be proactive and prepared with your documentation so you can provide employees, former employees, their representatives, as well as OSHA officials access to your Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300).

In an article from Attorney Eric J. Conn, chair of the Conn Maciel Carey OSHA practice group, emphasizes that employers commonly make the following four mistakes with the 300A:
  • Not having an internal management representative with adequate status certify the 300A.
  • Not posting a 300A for years in which there were no recordable injuries.
  • Not maintaining a copy of the certified version of the form.
  • Not updating prior years’ 300 logs based on recent information about previously unrecorded injuries or changes to injuries that were previously recorded.
Those who certify the forms (normally the organizations OSHA Compliance Officer) attest that they:
  • Personally examined the 300A;
  • Personally examined the OSHA 300 log from which the summary was developed; and
  • Reasonably believe, based on their knowledge of recordkeeping processes, that the 300A summary is correct and complete.
Employers, be aware that the 300A from must remain posted where employee notices are typically posted, and remain there for at least three months, February 1 through April 30. Once the summary comes down, it must be maintained for 5 years following the end of the prior calendar year at the facility covered by the form or at a central location. In addition to the summary, you need to save the 300 log on which it was based and any corresponding 301 incident report forms.

More information about OSHA employer responsibilities can be found here:

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Do You Know About TRACIE Sponsored by HHS?

Do You Know About TRACIE?

 HHS -TRACIE website
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offers a comprehensive national knowledge center about emergency preparedness for health care, public health, and disaster clinical practitioners.

The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) sponsors the ASPR Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE). The development and functionality of ASPR TRACIE are collaborative, involving multiple HHS Operating Divisions and other federal government departments/agencies; local, state, and regional government agencies; national associations; nonprofit organizations; and private sector partners.

ASPR TRACIE is a healthcare emergency preparedness government information gateway that ensures that all stakeholders-at the federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government levels; in nongovernmental organizations; and in the private sector-have access to information and resources to improve preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts. Each domain (TR, AC, and IE) provides users with unique support.

ASPR TRACIE fills gaps in healthcare system preparedness capabilities by providing timely, innovative ways to share information and promising practices during planning efforts. In the dynamic environment of a disaster, ASPR TRACIE will leverage resources to better integrate support and will serve as a force multiplier by improving information sharing and minimizing duplication of effort.

For More Information:
  • Click Here for the Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Information Gateway Fact Sheet

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Holiday Party Etiquette

What do holiday parties and compliance have to do with each other? Everything.

26% of men and 18% of women use alcohol as a crutch to get through the holiday events. While holiday parties are great, they’re also a prime place for compliance infringements. If you’re not prepared, these compliance issues could result in sexual harassment claims or even a lawsuit.

The importance of training your managers and employees on compliance issues related to behavior cannot be overstated.

This infographic provides statistics and actionable steps to help you mitigate risk at your annual holiday party and ensure the event is memorable
(in a good way).

Use this infographic of tips and tricks to help ensure you have a compliant, safe and fun holiday party!


Friday, November 17, 2017

Preventing Harassment Depends On Your Organizational Culture

Individual behaviors do not present as much of a risk factor for harassment as does the organizations' culture

Sarah was surprised when Mike came into her office to file a harassment complaint. Everyone within the organization had just completed Harassment Training the previous week, but yet here is Mike sitting in Sarah's office. Mike is complaining that he is being bullied in the office by multiple staff members. Sarah is very aware that this is covered within the organizations Harassment Training, so why was it happening? This situation has the potential of getting messy and dragging on for quite sometime.

Harassment is a decision made by an individual when his or her 
work environment allows for it.

Yes, the above statement is a hard fact to face. When an individual decides to take action in an inappropriate manner, that decision was made using various factors:
  • What is the character of the individual in question?
  • Does he or she have a history of inappropriate actions or words, but not held accountable for those actions or words?
  • Did the individuals' supervisor report any suspicious activity, words, or mannerisms?
  • Is there motivation behind the individuals actions or words?
All of the above questions do not necessarily point to the individual, but rather the organization and the culture that lives within that organization. Harassment thrives in organizations that lack respect, a healthy culture, and accountability.

Victoria Lipnic of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stated the following:
"Too much of the effort and training to prevent workplace harassment over the last 30 years has been ineffective an focused on simply avoiding legal liability. In simplest terms, training must change. That does not mean we are suggesting that training be thrown out - far from it - but training needs to be part of a holistic, committed effort to combat harassment, focused on the specific culture and needs of a particular workplace. Above all, employees must have faith in the system." (1)

Simply having a reactive system in place that responds to harassment claims is not enough. Out of fear of retribution, employees may not report the harassment when it occurs. It is becoming vital for organizations to lessen the opportunity for harassment from happening so significantly, that it is nearly non-existent within the organization. This type of harassment free environment is created from the culture that exist within the organization. Here are some suggestions to help create a harassment free culture:
  • Hire not just for skills and knowledge. The character of the individual must be a top priority when considering who to bring into the organization.
  • When an individual does act inappropriately, they must be held accountable. A slap on the wrist or a simple "tongue lashing" will not deter the individual or others from inappropriate actions in the future.
  • Effective supervisor training is a critical component. Supervisors must receive proper training that enables them to identify strange behaviors, words spoken, or mannerisms. When something odd occurs, it should be documented and monitored.
  • Create an environment of positive thinking, mutual respect, and support for fellow co-workers.
  • Ensure that your harassment policies are equal for everyone within your organization. One classification of worker should not have an advantage over another or receive special treatment.
  • Be sure everyone within the organization (at all levels) receives harassment training and this training is acknowledged through documentation. As part of your harassment training, ensure that all members of the organization understand what is considered harassment.
  • False harassment accusations should not be tolerated. A growing number of employees have been falsely accusing their co-worker of harassment in order to gain a competitive advantage over that co-worker.
Creating a "harassment free" culture within your organization will never completely eliminate harassment from occurring. However, it will greatly reduce the opportunity for it to occur.

Don't put your organization at risk by having a reactive approach to harassment. Take measures to be more proactive in your approach. Your employees will be grateful for the safer work environment that will be created and it will reduce the liability risk to the organization.

Individuals will be who they are. Try to ensure that you have the best people within your organization who, through their character, actions, and words are representatives of an organizational culture that you can be proud of!

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Importance of Written Time Off Policies

Managing time off requests effectively
will help reduce your liability

There are certain times of the year, summer and holidays, when a significant number of employees request time off from work. While it would be nice to accommodate all of the time off requests, work still needs to get done. In addition to reduced productivity, there is another factor with time off requests that increases liability, reduces morale, and sours the great culture that has been building within the organization. All of these are the result of unfair time off practices.

Reduce Liability
All of your time off requests should be done by following a written policy and procedure. Time off policies should be the same for the same type of employee (part-time or full-time). Be sure that the written time off policies are in no way discriminatory of gender, race, religion, or other factor.

Keep Morale High
If the written policies and procedures are not deviated from and are followed, then there should be no appearance of favoritism. It is the appearance or perception of favoritism that has a destructive influence on the morale of other employees.

Culture is Still Great
Any type of special allowances of time off could have a souring effect on the culture of an organization. Remember, everyone would like to have a special day off and get paid for it. If it is not written in the policies and procedures, don't do it. If someone really needs to have a day off and it is outside of the written policies, then the day off can be granted to the employee, but it would not be an unpaid day off. This would not have the same souring effect on the culture as a paid day off would have.

Reduce liability, keep the morale high, and maintain a great culture by having fair and written time off policies and procedures that are strictly followed.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

OSHA's New Fact Sheet on Preventing Zika Virus Exposure in Healthcare Workers

OSHA has released a new fact sheet on preventing Zika virus exposure in biomedical laboratory and other healthcare workers.
The Zika virus was found in the Americas and the Caribbean in 2015. Symptoms include fever, rash and joint pain. The virus, which can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain known as microcephaly.

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection, and there is no specific treatment for people who become infected. Although Zika virus is primarily spread by infected mosquitoes, exposure to an infected person’s blood or other body fluids may also result in transmission. 
Outdoor workers may be at the greatest risk of exposure to Zika virus.  Some workers, including those working with insecticides in areas of active Zika transmission to control mosquitoes and healthcare workers who may be exposed to contaminated blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) from people infected with Zika virus, may require additional protection. 
Although, to date, there are no absolutely confirmed reports of transmission of Zika virus from infected patients to health care personnel or other patients in the United Sates; minimizing exposure to body fluids is important to reduce the possibility of such transmission. The CDC has previously recommended Standard Precautions in all health care settings to protect both health care personnel and patients from infection with Zika virus as well as from blood-borne pathogens (e.g., human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] and hepatitis C virus [HCV]).

The New OSHA fact sheet on the Zika virus details how laboratory exposures occur, often through bodily fluids, and how to prevent exposures. Labs should undergo risk assessments, OSHA advises, with the fact sheet detailing the standards, recommendations and biosafety practices to follow.
OSHA also looks at worker training required under its (BBP) Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (1910.1030), and what employers should do in the case of an exposure or if a worker shows signs/symptoms of the virus.
Guidance to Healthcare and Laboratory Workers
  • Employers and workers in healthcare settings and laboratories should follow standard infection control and biosafety practices (including universal precautions) as appropriate, to prevent or minimize the risk of Zika virus transmission.
  • Standard precautions include, but are not limited to, hand hygiene and the use of (PPE) Personal Protective Equipment to avoid direct contact with blood and other potentially infectious materials, including laboratory specimens/samples. PPE may include gloves, gowns, masks, and eye protection.
  • Hand hygiene consists of washing with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Soap and water are best for hands that are visibly soiled. Perform hand hygiene before and after any contact with a patient, after any contact with potentially infectious material, and before putting on and upon removing PPE, including gloves.
  • Laboratories should ensure that their facilities and practices meet the appropriate (BSL) Biosafety Level for the type of work being conducted (including the specific biologic agents – in this case, Zika virus) in the laboratory.
  • Employers should ensure that workers: Follow workplace standard operating procedures (e.g., workplace exposure control plans) and use the engineering controls and work practices available in the workplace to prevent exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials.
  • Employers should ensure workers do NOT bend, recap, or remove contaminated needles or other contaminated sharps. Properly dispose of these items in closable, puncture-resistant, leak-proof, and labeled or color-coded containers. Workers should use sharps with engineered sharps injury protection (SESIP) to avoid sharps-related injuries.
The fact sheet notes that the Zika virus is “a nationally notifiable condition” and labs should consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reporting guidelines.
HCSI - sharps
If an employee becomes infected, the CDC recommends that infected individuals rest, drink fluids, and take acetaminophen for fever and pain reduction. Infected persons should avoid further mosquito bites by covering skin and using an insect repellent containing DEET.

Employers should ensure that workers receive prompt and appropriate medical care for suspected Zika infection. If the exposure falls under OSHA’s BBP standard, employers must comply with OSHA medical evaluation and follow-up requirements. Also employers should consider options for granting sick leave during the active period of infection.

 Healthcare Compliance Solutions Inc.

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Time To Remind Staff About Holiday Decoration Safety Rules

Workplace Holiday Season Safety
Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years and other holidays inspire staff members to set up decorations. These initiatives are often done with good intentions, meant to bring a touch of cheer or team festivity to a sometimes sterile healthcare office environment, but you will bear the blame if any decorations result in fire or occupational safety hazards.

Decorating the workplace can result in falls and dangerous tripping hazards. Avoid placing trees, gifts, Halloween decor (particularly dangerous or flammable cob web, steamers and banners) or other freestanding decorations in busy areas where people might run into them or trip over them. Always use the proper step stool or ladder to reach high places safely, not chairs or other unstable furniture. Before using a ladder, read and follow the manufacturer's instructions and do not exceed recommended usage limits. Potential trips over cords or decorations, slips and falls are workers’ compensation claims waiting to happen.

It's also essential to make sure that your holiday decor does not block exits, cover exit signage, or block access to fire safety equipment. Do not place any type of decorative items in exit corridors or hang decorations from or covering fire sprinklers.

General Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Decorations
Holiday decorations should create higher morale at the workplace, not hazards and potential for accidents and injuries, so take proper precautions. Choose artificial greenery made of fire retardant materials for office decorating. All decorations (including trees, wreaths, curtains/drapes, hangings, etc.) should be either noncombustible (not all artificial trees are), inherently flame retardant (the label will say so), or have been treated with a flame retardant solution.


  • Consider an artificial tree, which poses less risk than a live one.
  • Make sure live tree has water at all times so as not to dry out & become a fire hazard.
  • Live trees can be safer when sprayed with flame retardant.
  • Live trees should be in a location that does not interfere with foot traffic. Do not allow blockage of your escape route--doorways, exits, or pathways.
  • Live trees do not belong near heat sources (vents, flames, space heaters, etc.) where they can dry out.
  • Keep in mind trees can be top heavy, so use a sturdy stand. Consider safely using support from thin guy wires attached to walls or ceilings, to keep them from falling over and injuring someone.

Electric Lights

  • Before plugging in electrical decorations, carefully check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed, loose or bare wires, or loose connections. Damaged sets may cause a serious electric shock or start a fire; if damaged, discard - do not attempt to repair. Always unplug a light string or electrical decoration before replacing light bulbs or fuses.
  • Don't overload extension cords, which could overheat and start a fire. Extension cords have different ratings so be sure to check before plugging in multiple light string sets.
  • Never tack or staple an extension cord to the wall or woodwork--it could damage the cord and create a fire hazard. Make sure cords do not dangle from counters and table tops where they can be pulled or tripped over.
  • If an extension cord is used in a busy area or crosses a walkway, secure with duct tape or cover with mats or carpet.
  • Consider using miniature lights with cool-burning bulbs. Use only lights that have been tested for safety, identified by a label from an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Use indoor lights only indoors and outside lights outdoors.
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, building, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage. Don't mount or support light strings in any way that might damage the cord's wire insulation.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and any person touching a branch could be electrocuted. To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a tree, never fastened onto it.
  • Turn off all lights on trees and other decorations when you leave the workplace. Lights could short and start a fire.

Trimmings/Other Decorations

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials. Choose tinsel, artificial icicles, plastic or non-leaded metals.
  • Wear gloves while decorating with spun glass "angel hair," which can irritate eyes and skin. A common substitute is non-flammable cotton. Both angel hair and cotton snow are flame retardant when used alone. However, if artificial snow is sprayed onto them, the dried combination will burn rapidly.
  • When spraying artificial snow on windows or other surfaces, be sure to follow directions carefully. These sprays can irritate your lungs if you inhale them.
  • Never place trimmings near open flames or electrical connections.


  • Contribute to 10,000 fires per year. They are generally not safe to use in the workplace.
  • Never use candles to decorate trees; keep away from flammable materials, such as boughs or wreaths, other decorations or wrapping paper, and curtains/drapes.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended, and extinguish before leaving the workplace.


  • Preparation for holiday parties: Decorate only with flame-retardant or noncombustible materials. If guests will be smoking, provide them with ashtrays and check them frequently. After the party, check around furniture and in trashcans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
  • Holiday food preparation: Thoroughly cook and serve foods at proper temperatures.  Refrigerate cooked leftovers within 2 hours at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or below. More information can be found at
To summarize, using the list below should help keep you on the plus side of OSHA, your local fire authority and provide your staff a safe work environment during the holidays.
        NO decorative electrical lights of any kind in the patient vicinity (i.e., any room where a patient receives care).
        NO decorations that create a trip hazard (e.g. electrical cords or extension cords across halls or walkways).
        NO natural cut or once-live evergreen trees or garlands.
        NO artificial Christmas trees unless labeled or otherwise identified or certified as “flame retardant” or “flame resistant.”
        NO decorations that obstruct exits.
        NO combustible decorations. All decorations must be flame retardant and labeled as such. These decorations should always be kept away from ignition sources (e.g., light fixtures, electrical receptacles, etc.).
        NO decorations that are explosive or highly flammable (e.g., decorative crepe paper or pyroxylin plastic decorations).
        NO decorations that impair the visibility of an exit sign or portable fire extinguisher.
        NO decorations that impair the proper operation or the fire sprinkler system. Do not attach anything to sprinkler heads.
        NO decorations attached to painted surfaces with tape or staples. Hanging decorations from a ceiling grid is preferable.
        NO wall decorations in excess of 10% of the wall surface area.
Also consider declaring a date on which all holiday decorations must be taken down, which can help to eliminate any lingering compliance problems. Many facilities set the date of January 3 to conclude all holiday decorating activities.

Be safe and  enjoy the holiday season from HCSI!


Source(s):, http://www.foodsafety.gov,

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