The veterinary field is a much-appreciated line of work, as it requires individuals with a love and understanding for animals to perform proper care. However, like all medical environments, veterinary clinics and hospitals can be quite dangerous when you're not aware of correct safety measures while working. For this reason, OSHA continues to do its part in inspecting, auditing, and providing course material for employers and team members to shed light on risks that can threaten normal operations.
These training courses can look similar to those of the medical and dental fields. However, there are a few threats specific to the veterinary field. Here's what to expect before beginning veterinary OSHA training courses. You’ll want to keep these things in mind and contribute to workplace safety.
Hazards in Veterinary Clinics
Working in a veterinary practice is no easy feat. In spite of the employees’ passion in caring for animals, the profession isn't any less dangerous than caring for people, as workers must juggle many crucial responsibilities and avoid certain hazards. With irritable cats, aggressive dogs, and other startled animals in need of care, workers can often find themselves in situations that can affect the entire workplace.
Veterinary teams face other perils and situations in their environment that can interrupt a daily routine. These hazards include:
- •Zoonotic Diseases: These diseases include anthrax, rabies, West Nile virus, and other maladies transmittable from animals during handling and care.
- •Needlesticks, Scalpel, and Sharps Hazards: Sharps injuries can occur from lacerations and result in illness or death if instruments are contaminated with harmful bacteria.
- •Ergonomic and Musculoskeletal Hazards: Strains, sprains, and other repetitive motion injuries can happen when restraining, lifting, and treating animals. Ergonomic risks can also present themselves from extensive computer usage during daily operations.
- •Radiation Exposure: The risk of exposure during radiography can increase with the use of older or poor equipment, improper use of protective wear (PPE), and physical restraint of animals.
- •Exposure to Anesthetic Gases: Animals recovering from surgeries while under anesthetics can give off traces of such gases. When nearby these patients, team members can experience headaches, dizziness, and some long-term effects.
- •Fires, Floods, and Other Natural Disasters: Fire drills, evacuations plans, and shelters should be present and accessible if an incident occurs.
- •Workplace Violence: Animals aren’t the only ones responsible for potential violence within the veterinary field. Other violent situations include conflict among team members or even aggression from pet owners to staff that could jeopardize employee well-being.
OSHA Training Course Information
In the veterinary field, OSHA training material includes a manual along with online courses that may consist of the following:
- •Introduction to OSHA
- •Requirements for Recordkeeping
- •Veterinary Standard Precautions for Zoonotic Disease Prevention
- •Hazard Communication Expectations
- •Hazardous Drug Exposure in the Veterinary Practice
- •Ionizing Radiation
- •Laser Safety
- •Latex Allergies
- •Workplace Violence
- •Ergonomics Exposure and Control
- •Fire Safety
Everyone undergoing training must show understanding in the material which is typically done by passing a final exam covering all topics.
Implementing OSHA Training in the Work Environment
No one is exempt from keeping the workplace a safe and comfortable environment. While most team members and staff are diligent in maintaining safety standards, you can always expect a few to fall behind in maintaining safe techniques.
When this happens, it's vital to reinforce education through different refresher methods, such as seminars, quizzes, and memos to remind everyone of the importance of a secure work setting. An employer and their staff should follow protocol at all times. Importantly, following proper procedure helps prepare for OSHA inspection and audits.
It can be easy to confuse the two things, but OSHA inspections and audits approach the aspect of workers’ well-being from different angles. These procedures differ from one another in the following ways:
The main focus of an OSHA safety inspection is to search for hazards, risks, and other factors that can prevent a company or practice from operating safely.
A compliance officer sent to the business may walk around the premises and perform tests during their visit. They may take the following actions:
- •Determine whether safeguards within an industry are in place.
- •Inspect equipment for potential faults and hazards that may deem hardware unsafe or unfit for use.
- •Gather water, air, and other samples to test for hazardous substances present within the practice or establishment.
- •Observe daily operations to identify unsafe practices and actions that could put someone’s well-being at risk.
While a safety inspection evaluates the hazards present in the workplace, an OSHA safety audit focuses on the programs and practices within a business. Audits will also assess a safety plan's efficiency in meeting the company's goals.
Employers should always have up-to-date information on their practice’s safety plan readily available. Additionally, they should do the following:
- •Evaluate the practice's safety program, its reliability, and its effectiveness in maintaining staff well-being. Safety programs should indicate what steps to take if a team member is injured.
- •Determine whether the practice’s safety program meets the desired goals.
It’s essential to note that both OSHA inspections and audits must happen under the supervision of an official auditor or compliance officer. These reviews can happen at any time, whether an employer is expecting a visit or not. This means that having staff engage in proper practices is crucial.
Exam results should remain in a log and demonstrate proof of complete training during an OSHA audit. Employers and veterinary team members should always remain aware of safety tactics to mitigate risks and harmful exposures in the workplace, as everyone plays an essential role in maintaining expectations.
As one can tell, there’s much to expect before beginning veterinary OSHA training courses, considering the potential risks you face when engaging in daily responsibilities. However, you can decrease the threat and chance for injury despite the risks by following proper OSHA training techniques.
For more training essentials that are helpful within the veterinary field, consider browsing our webpage at Gamma Compliance Solutions. Our training kits include OSHA training for veterinary hospitals, medical offices, and dental practices and offer fantastic educational opportunities for employers and staff alike.