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What is OSHA compliance and its priorities in the healthcare setting?

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency under the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) ensuring employee safety in the workplace. OSHA’s mission is to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance."

OSHA expanded its scope of safety and health hazards in the 1990s when they began addressing new issues such as indoor air quality, infectious diseases, and ergonomics. They developed health standards for bloodborne pathogens, such as hepatitis B virus and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which were the standards’ focal points. The introduction of HIV/AIDS in the United States played a large part in getting the standard finalized. The Bloodborne Pathogens standard has had the most influence on healthcare work practices and safety.

Practices and healthcare organizations have OSHA standards they must follow to ensure employee and patient safety. Unless otherwise stated in a specific OSHA regulation, all employee exposure and medical records must be maintained for a minimum of the employee’s employment duration, plus 30 years. This includes safety data sheets, training records and materials, injury/illness reports, and any other document/electronic files generated in response to an OSHA matter.