There is not a standard or rule, and this guidance does not impose any additional legal obligations. It includes both recommendations and details of mandatory safety and health requirements.
The recommendations are advisory in nature, contain facts, and are designed to guide employers in fostering a safe and healthy working environment.
Employers are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act to comply with safety and health standards and regulations issued by OSHA or a system with an OSHA-accepted state scheme. Furthermore, Section 5(a)(1) of the Act’s General Duty Clause allows employers to offer their workers a workplace clear from acknowledged hazards that are liable to cause death or serious physical damages.
This article contains information for both healthcare workers and employers. This guidance reinforces interval guidelines for employees and employers of workers who are at high risk of occupational SARS-CoV-2 exposure.
Employers must consider the hazards to which their employees may be subjected, determine the risk of exposure, and determine, enforce, and ensure that their employees use safeguards to avoid exposure. The table below are instances of healthcare occupation tasks correlated with the exposure risk levels in OSHA’s occupational exposure risk pyramid, which employers in this field can use as a reference.
Instances of Health Care Occupation Activities Correlated with the Degree of Exposure Risk:
➔ Administrative tasks are carried out in non-public aspects of healthcare facilities, separate from other staff members.
Note: OSHA’s Interim Guidance for Workers and Employers of Workers at Lower Risk of Exposure may be most suitable for activities in the lower (caution) risk group.
➔ Providing treatment to individuals who are not confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients.
➔ Working in a bustling staff work environment within a health care facility.
➔ Entering the room of a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patient.
➔ Treatment for a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patient in which there is no inclusion of an aerosol-generating procedure.
➔ Conducting aerosol-generating operations on confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients such as:
● Cough induction processes
● Intrusive specimen collection
● Or [articular dental procedures and examinations
➔ Collecting or processing specimens from COVID-19 patients that are confirmed or suspected of having the disease.
To protect healthcare workers who have been exposed to COVID-19, OSHA advocates a variation of preventive measures, contact precautions, airborne precautions, and eye safety which includes goggles and face shields) until there are a deeper understanding and knowledge about the proliferation of the virus.
On the other hand, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presents the most recent infection prevention and control guidelines for healthcare staff dealing with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks.
Employers of health care workers must comply with all relevant OSHA regulations, such as Bloodborne Pathogens (29 CFR 1910.1030), Personal Protective Equipment (29 CFR 1910.132), and Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134) specifications.
Employ engineering controls to protect healthcare personnel, patients, and visitors from people who have COVID-19, whether suspected or confirmed. This requires physical barriers or partitions in triage points to direct patients, curtains separating patients in semi-private zones, and properly ventilated airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIRs). AIIRs are single-patient rooms with negative pressure that have at least 6 air exchanges per hour (existing structures) or 12 air exchanges per hour (new construction or renovation).
If an AIIR is:
- Currently available: If an AIIR is accessible at the medical facility, locate patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in it. In an AIIR, conduct aerosol-generating procedures on patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If recirculated, ensure that the room air exhausts directly to unoccupied areas outside the building rather than into hallways, break areas, or other areas where personnel or visitors can congregate or move through, or that it passes through a high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter.
- Not available: Quarantine the patient in a separate and private room. Adverse-pressure rooms, rooms under negative pressure that do not satisfy all of the requirements of an optimal AIIR, are more suitable to standard exam or patient rooms if they are open. Always keep the room door closed. When AIIRs are unavailable and/or examination room area is restricted, seclusion tents or other portable containment structures can be used as an alternative patient-placement facility. Ensure that the room air vents directly to vacant areas outside the facility or, if recirculated, goes through a HEPA filter.
Isolate patients with probable or confirmed COVID-19 in accordance with general interim guidelines to eliminate disease transmission to others. Isolating suspected cases from reported cases, if necessary, can also help avoid transmission.
Limit the number of people who may access the room of a patient who has COVID-19, whether it is suspected or confirmed. This could include training healthcare employees in the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) so that they can carry out tasks such as housekeeping and meal service, reducing the necessity for environmental and food service workers to visit areas where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are isolated.
Moreover, there must be a reduction in the number of people in the area whilst conducting aerosol-generating procedures.
Workplace Safety Practices
As much as possible, conduct as many tasks as possible far from a patient who has COVID-19, whether suspected or confirmed. For example, do not monitor in an isolation area; use closed-circuit television systems to convey with patients in an isolation area as lpong as an employee is not required to be physically present.
Working from clean to dirty where there are activities such as touching clean body areas or surfaces before touching polluted or highly contaminated areas. Also, there must be a limit in touch contamination possibilities such as adjusting glasses, rubbing nose, or touching the face with gloves that have been in interaction with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients or contaminated/possibly contaminated surfaces. Furthermore, avoid needless contact exposure by not contacting unnecessary environmental surfaces including such as light switches and door handles with contaminated gloves.
Guarantee that there are particular processes in place to:
- Distinguish between safe (e.g., where PPE is placed on) and possibly polluted (e.g., where PPE is removed).
- Treat waste and other materials as potentially infectious products, and
- Reusable equipment and PPE should be cleaned, disinfected, and retained.
Handle needles and other sharps with care, and discard infected sharps in puncture-proof, labeled, lockable storage sharps containers. Employees should avoid touching their faces, especially their eyes, noses, and mouths, unless they have thoroughly cleaned up their hands after finishing work and/or removing PPE. Employees, personnel, and other staff must be trained and retrained on how to obey existing procedures.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
When in contact with a patient who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or other SARS-CoV-2 factors, healthcare workers should wear acceptable and appropriate PPE.
OSHA advises that healthcare personnel who have been exposed to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients put on the following protective equipment:
- Eye/face protection
- Face shield
- NIOSH-certified disposable N95 filter facepiece respirators or higher are needed.
Utilize respiratory safety protection a component of a robust, appropriate protection program that requires medical tests, suit testing, and training which complies with 29 CFR 1910.134 of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard.
Avoid contacting the outside of potentially infected PPE, such as a N95 respirator and gloves, while extracting potentially infected PPE.
Additionally, the CDC has established approaches for maximizing PPE supply, including strategies specifically for:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided temporary guidelines to healthcare professionals who are planning the home treatment and isolation or quarantine of individuals who have been confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19.
Cleaning and disinfection in the healthcare setting:
Daily schedule cleaning and sanitization procedures (which includes pre-cleaning surfaces with cleaners and water before administering an EPA-registered disinfectant is a must. Also, SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare environments, including patient-care areas where aerosol-generating procedures are performed, may be treated by applying a hospital-grade disinfectant to regularly touched surfaces or items for the required contact periods as indicated on the product’s label.
It should be noted that workers who conduct cleaning and sanitization in healthcare, which need PPE and/or other measures to safeguard them from both the chemical hazards generated by disinfectants and the human blood, body fluids, and other potentially infectious materials to which they are exposed on the workplace in the healthcare setting.
Healthcare Certification is Crucial:
Following all of the advice outlined by OSHA is key, and that includes the various standards that require mandatory training and certification, like the Respiratory Protection Standard. You can get your team their healthcare certification right here in the easiest way possible.