OSHA compliance: Laying the groundwork for patient-focused care
June 2, 2015 in Medical Technology
When healthcare organizations set their strategic goals, one objective that regularly rises to the surface is to provide patient-centered care. Such care brings staff, patients and family members together to develop and implement a treatment plan that respects and responds to patient preferences, needs and values. To consistently achieve this goal, organizations must have the commitment of their employees to this cause, as these individuals represent the face of the organization, interacting directly with patients and families every day. In many ways, healthcare staff are the lynchpin to patient-centered care, driving the effort and encouraging robust collaboration and communication.
A key strategy for encouraging staff to be patient-focused is to keep them happy and safe during their workday. It stands to reason that the more comfortable employees are when doing their job, the more satisfied they will be. From there, that contentment will trickle down to patients. Conversely, if staff members feel unsafe or think the organization does not care about their health and safety, they may have trouble focusing on the patient and could possibly provide less than fully collaborative care.
So, how can organizations communicate that they value staff safety and ensure they preserve employee health and wellness? Probably the best way is to commit to rigorous and continuous OSHA compliance.
Why is OSHA Compliance So Important?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor that requires compliance with detailed worker safety standards. Covering everything from hazardous chemical exposure to bloodborne pathogens, these standards ensure a healthcare setting is safe, secure and risk-free. While every business is required to comply with OSHA regulations, healthcare settings have more risks than most, so OSHA compliance for these entities is especially critical.
The idea of OSHA compliance is not new: organizations have been required to follow the rules since 1971. However, healthcare facilities—especially smaller physician practices and other entities with limited staff and resources—often struggle to meet these compliance standards. The regulations are wide-reaching and comprehensive, and these organizations may not have the necessary resources or expertise to fully understand the rules, set up a compliance strategy and follow it through. Unfortunately, without a strong plan in place, worker safety issues can emerge, putting staff at risk and negatively impacting patient care.
Leveraging Technology to Meet OSHA Regulations
To lay the groundwork for an effective OSHA compliance strategy, organizations should put together a strong written safety and health plan (injury and illness prevention program). Though not yet a federal rule, written safety and health plans are sometimes a state requirement and certainly a general best practice. The plan should outline the scope of management leadership and employee involvement, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, necessary training, how the organization will assess compliance, and so on.
While creating this type of plan may seem daunting, there are opportunities to streamline the process. For instance, there are technology solutions that guide staff members through the task. Developed by OSHA experts, these tools allow any staff person to take charge of crafting a safety and health plan even if he or she has little previous OSHA experience. The software solutions already include the organization’s state requirements and offer a step-by-step approach to plan creation and implementation.
In addition to using technology to craft a safety and health plan and other required safety plans, organizations can also employ automated solutions to help with training and compliance assessment. Again, these tools offer a detailed and easy-to-follow method that anyone can follow, even with little to no OSHA knowledge.
By using technology, organizations can not only set the stage for a sound environment, but they can do so efficiently. This frees up staff to concentrate on other things, such as improving patient care. This further enables the organization’s push to be patient-focused because staff can worry less about their work environment and focus less on the intricacies of compliance, and pay more attention to what they do best—collaborating with patients to provide targeted and effective care.
What OSHA Compliance Means for Patients
While OSHA’s legal purview extends only to workers, creating a safe environment for staff can also benefit patients. Even though patient safety is a byproduct of OSHA compliance, it points to yet another way that following OSHA rules can help organizations provide more patient-driven care.
At the end of the day, organizations that leverage technology to implement a comprehensive OSHA compliance program can improve staff safety and do it efficiently. Doing so enhances employee satisfaction and frees up staff to focus on patient care—ultimately instilling confidence throughout the organization that the environment is secure and safe for all who enter.