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.

To subscribe to this blog, enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

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.

Sources: www.hcsiinc.comwww.osha.govwww.cdc.gov, www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com 
 Healthcare Compliance Solutions Inc.

To subscribe to this blog, enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner