In our OSHA Series, we talked a lot about safety from exposure to pathogens. Now we will discuss providing a safe physical environment for all people, especially employees. The following areas should be considered, such as:
Routes are usually already determined for each practice size; however, it is important that nothing is in the way of the exit just in case employees or patients must leave due to an emergency. Also, all exit doors must be kept unlocked when people are on the premise.
Emergency plans should be in writing and verbally communicated to all employees. An example should consist of: procedures for reporting a fire or emergencies, emergency evacuation, how you will account for employees after an evacuation, and much more. OSHA has extensive information on their website on how to create an emergency plan. Keep in mind if you have a staff less than 10, OSHA allows you to provide verbal communication only, a written plan is not required.
This document should be visible to the public and discuss the preventative measures you have in place, whether that is how clinical equipment is inspected or fire alarms are evaluated. Making this information visible will help people feel comfortable that procedures are in place if an emergency arises. Lastly, the compliance team should create a plan to relay the information to employees through training to ensure they understand the protocol, especially regarding fire safety and drills.
OSHA signage or state equivalent should be present in every workplace. The poster explains worker rights to a safe workplace and how to file a complaint. All signs must be visible to employees. Remember posting the signs are required by OSHA and they are free of charge if you contact them directly for it.
Your compliance team or representative should ensure OSHA requirements are completed annually with walkthrough inspections, which includes proper documentation.
If you find that you are overwhelmed or not sure how to proceed, OSHA provides a free consultation which includes removal of penalties in deficient areas, if found upon inspection (lasts for one year). Their goal is to assist you in educating your staff about creating a safe work environment.
**The opinions and observations from the group/author are not a promise to exempt your practice from fines and penalties. Research, modify, and tailor the advice to fit your specialty.