OSHA Employee Safety Precautions for the Medical Office

The purpose of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as part of the Department of Labor is to "save lives, prevent injuries, and protect the health of America’s workers." There are safety and health hazards in the medical office. OSHA has five guidelines and standards that will help to minimize incidents and protect the employees of the medical office.


Bloodborne Pathogens Standards

Blood draw

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There are nine basic requirements of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard:

  1. A written exposure control plan should be updated annually
  2. Safety policies should reflect the use of universal precautions
  3. Identify and use engineering controls such as sharps disposal container and needless systems
  4. Identify and use work practice controls to reduce exposure, such as how to handle specimens and clean contaminated surfaces.
  5. Provide personal protection equipment (PPE) including gloves, gowns, masks, and eye protection.
  6. Provide Hepatitis B vaccine for free to all employees who are at risk of exposure.​
  7. Provide medical treatment and follow-up when there is an exposure.
  8. Use labels or color-coding for used materials
  9. Provide employee training and maintain training records.

Here are rules to communicate to employees:

  • Always wash hands thoroughly before and after each patient contact. Wash hands immediately upon contact with blood or body fluids. ​
  • Always wear disposable gloves
  • Always properly dispose of contaminated materials in properly labeled red bags
  • Never recap used needles.
  • Always report exposures or contamination immediately

Hazard Communications Standards

Hazardous chemical

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By law, employees who work with or near chemicals or other hazardous materials are required to receive proper training to handle a chemical spill or leak. Information should be communicated to the medical office staff regarding the proper safety measures for use, storage, and disposal of all hazardous materials.

Also referred to as the “employee right-to-know” standard, there are four basic requirements of the hazard communication standard:

  1. A written plan
  2. A list of hazardous chemicals used and/or stored in the medical office
  3. A copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each chemical used and/or stored in the medical office
  4. Employee training

Ionizing Radiation Standards

radiation monitor

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The ionizing radiation standard applies to facilities that have an x-ray machine and includes four basic requirements:

  1. A survey of the types of radiation used
  2. Restrict areas to limit exposure to employees
  3. Employees working near equipment in restricted areas must wear personal radiation monitors
  4. Place "Film Badge Required" signs on rooms and equipment

Emergency Exit Routes Standards

emergency exit sign

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The standards for emergency exit routes include two requirements for providing safe and accessible building exits in case of fire or other emergency:

  1. Provide enough exit routes that sufficiently meet the needs of the number of employees within the medical office
  2. Diagrams of evacuation routes should be posted in highly visible areas

OSHA has a fact sheet that provides the answers to any of your questions including:

  • What is an exit route?
  • How many exit routes must a workplace have?
  • What are some other design and construction requirements for exit routes?
  • What are the requirements for exits?
  • What are the maintenance, safeguarding, and operational features for exit routes?
  • Are employers required to have emergency action plans?

Electrical Standards

MRI machine

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Many procedures performed in the medical office require the use of medical equipment. It is important to perform regular inspections and maintenance of equipment. Failure to develop written policies and procedures for medical office equipment regarding its use and maintenance can lead to equipment failure or malfunction.

Electrical standards address requirements that safeguard employees from injury:

  1. All staff must be properly trained in the use of all equipment.
  2. Equipment must only be used by staff for the purpose of performing their job.
  3. All equipment must be tagged with the inspection date, the due date of the next inspection and the inspector's initials.
  4. In the event of failure or malfunction, immediately tag "OUT OF SERVICE."
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