OSHA—fully known as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—serves as a tasking agency to ensure the health and safety of Americans in the workforce. OSHA’s primary function is to promote the clear access of every American to a daily safe working environment. OSHA covers the general industry as well as specific industries that are in possession of greater health hazards and safety risks. One of these industries is veterinary medicine, as its liabilities pertain to a similar nature with healthcare facilities.
Every company, business, or organization covered by OSHA must follow rules set under the general safety clause, alongside specific regulations set for their industry. Prevention is key to achieve compliance. Take note that anything not specifically covered with these set requirements still falls under OSHA’s General Duty Clause, which sets a standard for a workplace “free from recognized hazards.”
OSHA compliance is not an option or choice—it’s a mandatory item that will never be crossed off your to-do list as an employer. To stay on the good side of the law, you need to be aware of the safety regulations to adhere to. Many clinics don’t achieve full compliance every day, which can permanently damage your reputation and business if you get inspected. To get you started on the road towards complete effectuality, closely examine the following OSHA compliance checklist for vets.
Administrative Recordkeeping: Appropriate for Evaluation
You can work towards compliance all you want, but if you don’t have the documentation to prove it, you’ll be behind the Eightball. The scope of OSHA regulations calls for specific recordkeeping of various documents and records to showcase your due diligence. If a veterinary clinic has a minimum of 10 employees, then a log of work-related illnesses or injuries must be kept up to par.
This well-known log is called the OSHA 300 form, which thoroughly describes the situation or injury that occurred with an employee. All accidents or circumstances must be recorded separately with their own incident report. At the end of a cycled year, a veterinary facility must prepare a culmination report summarizing work-related accidents. These records must be available or posted for OSHA to inspect upon request.
Other notable documentation to have on hand is a list of employee’s vaccinations, health records, emergency contacts, as well as signed documentation that confirms an employee has attended the mandated training. Also remember to include records of annual safety reviews and a written copy of your hazard safety communication plan. A number of these documents must be displayed so that employees can see them as well.
Hazard Communication Standard: Precise Safety Measure
A major safety standard of OSHA requires that veterinary facilities exclusively communicate about hazardous substances found in the workplace. Special measures must be taken to disclose how these toxic substances should be carefully handled. For each toxic or chemical substance that exists within the facility, a safety data sheet must be supplementary.
These documents list chemical characteristics, the hazards the chemical causes, and clearly describe instructions of how a chemical is to be safely engaged with. Whether as a printed book or quickly accessible as a digital resource online, SDSs are critical caveats of information that relay emergency first-aid procedures in case of accidental contact with toxic substances.
To comply fully with this communication standard, employers are required to ensure all these chemical substances are properly labeled and a distinctly identifiable as a toxic material. Even secondary containers that chemicals are poured into must be correctly labeled to standards that fit GHS (the Globally Harmonized System). Other signage briefings about specific health hazards should be comprehensively marked.
Zoonotic Diseases Prevention and Control
Staff members are exposed to a number of hazards on a day-to-day basis during clinical procedures and tasks. These hazards include harmful chemicals or toxins, bites, kicks, and scratches during animal handling, as well as an enhanced exposure to zoonotic diseases.
Zoonotic diseases, aka infectious diseases transmitted between species, are carried from animals to humans. Since the industry of veterinary medicine exclusively comes into contact with an array of these illnesses, OSHA sets a disease prevention standard for a facility’s staff. Employees can be easily exposed to certain organisms that cause these diseases from inhalation, ingestion, direct contact with eyes or mucous remembrances, or accidental injection by a needle.
Proper provision and use of personal protective equipment are critical to prevent the spreading of zoonotic illnesses. Employers are required to give adequate PPE to their staff members with correct instructions on how to wear/use the gear to remain safe during the workday.
Knowledge of Personal Hygiene Practices
Protection control is fundamental for OSHA compliance. Personal hygiene practices are at the top of the list on the OSHA compliance checklist for vets. What seems simple is often overlooked. A requirement of OSHA is to have a handwashing station where staff can wash their hands after eating, drinking, handling animals or specimens, using the restroom, and before starting the weekday or leaving the clinic after a shift.
Staff should be consistently advised and encouraged to utilize thorough handwashing techniques. Don’t forget that any food or drink brought into the workplace cannot be stored in the same refrigerator as medicine or specimens. This is a typical and prevalent cause of OSHA citations.
Common Safety Hazards To Be Aware of
An assortment of safety hazards besides those already listed are possible within veterinary facilities. Be sure to be up to date with the current rules regarding moving and lifting equipment, radiation and the use of X-rays, anesthesia, biohazards and spills, trip and fall risks, as well as the handling of sharps and medical waste. Everything should be in its place and every procedure should be outlined for the whole clinic’s awareness. This awareness comes directly from certifiable training.
Proper Training and Employee Education
OSHA stipulates that employers must provide employees with initial and continual training on safety practices and procedures. Education is the forthright means to identifying potential hazards and preventing workplace accidents that may derive from a variety of risks.
Here at Gamma Compliance Solutions, we supply up-to-date OSHA manuals and comprehensive training programs specifically for your industry. With over 20 years of experience, our OSHA training for veterinary hospitals interactively provides authoritative information to keep your staff fully aware of safety policies. Well researched and easy to use, our do-it-yourself compliance kits are like nothing on the current market. Browse through our standard to deluxe packages to find the right fit for your veterinary practice. Whatever your needs are, we’ve certainly got you covered with our compliance solutions.