Challenges & Opportunities in Developing OHSMS Standards

| September 4, 2009

This week I had the opportunity to attend and give a presentation at the NIOSH NORA Health Care and Social Assistance Sector Council Meeting in Washington DC.  It was the first NIOSH NORA meeting I have attended and I found the discussion both very enlightening and somewhat scary.

At this meeting I gave a presentation – Challenges & Opportunities in Developing OHSMS Standards – that outlined five common barriers to implementing Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems.  Also giving presentations on this topic were Mike Seymour from OSHA and Barbara Braun from The Joint Commission.  Mike Seymour discussed the OHSMS guidance document that OSHA is currently in the process of developing and Barbara Braun discussed how the Joint Commission standards also include worker safety requirements.  As several of the attendees pointed out, there is a clear and obvious link between patient safety and worker safety.

The purpose of these presentations was to assist the HCSA Sector Council in developing implementation plans for the new National Occupational Research Agenda for this sector (currently out for public comment until the end of October 2009).  A key strategic goal in this agenda is promoting the use of OH&S management systems and improving safety culture in healthcare organizations.

The scary part of the meeting…

The critical issues that need to be addressed to protect health care workers – particularly as it relates to the H1N1 pandemic.  There was a great deal of discussion concerning the precautions that need to be taken related to providing proper respiratory protection – NOT JUST SURGICAL MASKS – and the current lack of hospital preparedness.  The importance of this topic was emphasized by the advisory issued by the Institute of Medicine yesterday that urges health care workers to use N95 respirators instead of surgical masks for protection.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2009) 

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Category: Emergency Preparedness, OHSMS Implementation, Standards & Certification

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