Preparing for an OSHA inspection

Preparing for an OSHA inspection - Image Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Thursday September 24 2015

Getting an inspection from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can be a nervous and stressful time for any hospital. The busy and fast-paced nature of such a working environment means that anything can happen at any time, and there is nothing to be done that can stop a major incident happening before or during an inspection. However, there are measures that can be taken to help healthcare workers and managers prepare for the inspection. 

This means that no matter what happens on the day of the inspection, all workers will have all the skills and knowledge needed to manage an OSHA review.

Prepare healthcare workers

The main objective of an OSHA inspection is to ensure that hospitals are safe working environments for staff, and to ensure that this doesn't affect patient care at some any level. As reviews happen on a regular basis, it's likely that managers will be aware when they are due for an inspection. When you know your hospital is likely to be reviewed in the next few months, ensure that your staff know too.

This gives managers the opportunity to conduct any training sessions that need updating or refreshing. It also enables healthcare workers to review their own standards and ask questions if they feel it's necessary. A combination of training and encouraging a culture where staff are free to ask questions or identify areas where their skills may need improving, allows the workforce to improve and ensure it's up-to-date with the latest industry standards.

Even if you don't get an inspection when you are expecting it, this is a great opportunity to ensure that all staff members are well-versed on guidelines and practices, especially where patient safety might be in jeopardy[,] such as in sharps safety.

Identify any problem areas

Knowing there is an inspection around the corner allows managers to run risk assessments to improve hospital standards. Conducting these reviews will allow you to identify areas where improvements can be made, whether this is concerning infection control, sharps safety or more general employee health.

Regular risk assessments are important for ensuring the day-to-day hospital is a safe environment for healthcare workers. However, during an OSHA inspection[,] these can highlight areas where many hospitals can fall short. By getting ahead of the game and ensuring the hospital is hitting every industry standard, you can prepare it for the official review.

Ask staff

Although often overlooked, asking staff where improvements can be made can be is (to avoid rep) an effective and cheap way of identifying areas that need changing or updating. With hundreds or more staff, all at different levels, it can be difficult to canvass the opinion of everyone and ensure each worker feels valued and safe. However, introducing a suggestion or grievance box in the staff room can be a really effective way of generating opinion about what changes need to be made.

Monthly or quarterly reviews can also be held or newsletters can be sent around staff to update them about what changes have been made to support their suggestions.