Beware of These Top 3 OSHA Violations in the Workplace

The right to work in a safe environment is a globally acknowledged human right protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA safety standards help keep employees safe within your organization.

LHA Trust Funds recommends regularly reviewing OSHA standards as a best practice for your organization. Risk assessments comparing organizational practices to OSHA standards are another great way to evaluate employee safety at your organization.

Our risk experts discuss this year’s top three most cited OSHA standards in the Health Care and Social Assistance industries and offer tips to help your healthcare organization understand and reduce risks associated with these common OSHA violations in the workplace.

#1 Most Cited OSHA Standard: Bloodborne Pathogens (1910.1030)

With 162 citations and over $400,000 in penalty costs, bloodborne pathogens came in as the most cited standard in 2023.

This standard requires safeguards to protect employees from exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials. It applies to any employee who could be “reasonably anticipated” to encounter blood or other potentially contaminated materials through their job duties.

Though healthcare providers at all levels are included in this standard, you also want to consider employees in other departments within a healthcare organization who may encounter bloodborne pathogens such as environmental services or laundry staff.

Creating a comprehensive Exposure Control Plan is the first step in ensuring protection against bloodborne pathogens. The written plan must be accessible to all employees and identify job tasks where exposure to bloodborne pathogens may occur.

It should also address the following:

  • Engineering and work practice controls to protect against exposures
    The installation of handwashing sinks is an example of engineering control. A set of rules that ban eating or drinking in a specific area to prevent cross-contamination is an example of work practice control.
  • Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
    Specific types of PPE are required for each job and task so that your staff is fully protected.
  • Employee training
    At a minimum, employees should be trained upon hire and annually to ensure employees are equipped with bloodborne pathogen training.
  • Medical Surveillance
    A plan for surveillance of illness should be in place in the event an exposure occurs.
  • Hepatitis B vaccinations
    Since Hepatitis B is one of the most common bloodborne pathogens, providing vaccinations will reduce the risk of employees contracting the disease.
  • Use of signs and labels
    Biohazard signs and red containers should be used to alert employees that potentially infected materials are stored within.

Sharp/needlestick injuries are one of the most common bloodborne pathogen hazards in healthcare. Frequently evaluating these risks and working to reduce them is vital. To get started, take a fresh look at these processes:

  • the use of safety needles,
  • the use of sharp containers for proper disposal of sharps, and
  • employee training.

LHA Trust Funds Needlestick Prevention On-Site Training provides your staff with a heightened awareness of how to protect themselves against common sharp-related injuries.

#2 Most Cited OSHA Standard: Respiratory Protection (1910.0134)

This standard requires employee protection from respiratory hazards such as viruses, smoke, fumes, and gases. When engineering controls are not available or feasible, appropriate respirators must be used to reduce exposure risks.

Start by creating a respiratory protection plan that includes the use of masks and respirators for PPE. Include a “mini respiratory plan” in the full plan that provides guidance for the use of respirators in areas where they are not mandatory for the job.

While refining your organization’s plan, ensure that your provided masks and respirators are cleared for use by the FDA or through FDA Emergency Use Authorization.

Be sure to monitor employee use of PPE and provide training on proper use:

  • How to correctly wear masks and respirators
    Masks should cover the mouth and nose. They may require fit testing.
  • When and when not to wear them
    Masks are not needed when alone in a room, eating or drinking, if you already wearing a respirator, or if it is necessary for the other person to see the mouth for effective communication.
  • User seal checks should be conducted when using a respirator
    A respirator can be a hazard in and of itself if other medical conditions exist for the user.

Personal protective equipment is a vital component in keeping your employees safe. The LHA Trust Funds COVID-19 Toolkit can assist you in maintaining the supply and sterilization of FDA-approved PPE equipment.

#3 Most Cited OSHA Standard: Hazard Communication (1910.1200)

Also known as HazCom, this standard establishes uniform requirements to ensure the hazards of all chemicals used in workplaces are evaluated and exposure to chemicals is minimized or eliminated.

Start by conducting a hazard assessment, and then develop a written HazCom Program.

The key components of the program must address:

  • A hazardous chemicals list
    Identify and list hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
  • Employee education
    New employee training must occur within 30 days of hire, annually, and anytime a new hazard is introduced into the workplace.
  • Various modes of communication
    Each hazardous chemical should be communicated to employees through labels, Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and formal training programs.

Gain more insight on HazCom recommendations through LHA Trust Funds GHS Labeling Requirements or GHS Safety Data Sheet on-site trainings.

Your Partners in Employee Safety

These common OSHA violations in the workplace not only influence the healthcare sector but every other industry in some way.

At LHA Trust Funds, we understand that you can’t eliminate every injury in the workplace. But there are steps you and your organization can take to reduce the risks. That’s why our team of experts work with you to identify hazards, recommend policy changes, and train your staff to follow new processes.

Contact us for personalized assessments and education to help ensure your employees work in a safe environment.

About the Author

Stacie Jenkins Blue Square 3

Stacie Jenkins, RN, MSN, CPSO
Vice President of Patient Safety and Risk, LHA Trust Funds

Stacie Jenkins is a registered nurse with a master’s degree in nursing informatics. She has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare, working in patient care and quality/performance improvement positions. As the Vice President of Patient Safety & Risk at LHA Trust Funds, she works closely with hospital administrators, risk managers, and nursing staff to improve patient safety and establish best practices. She conducts on-site assessments and gives presentations designed to help clients address their patient safety risk management challenges.

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