In new draft guidelines for employee health, the CDC recommends periodic risk assessments to identify and reduce infectious hazards to healthcare workers.

The CDC recommendations for occupational health services leaders and staff include “conduct, or collaborate with other healthcare organization departments or individuals in, regular risk assessments and risk reduction activities related to occupational infection prevention and control. Notify healthcare organization leaders and departments about hazards identified and risk reduction plans, progress, and priorities for healthcare personnel.”1

The CDC draft recommends that healthcare administrators “regularly meet with occupational health services leaders to review results of risk assessments related to occupational infection prevention and control, set performance goals, and charge relevant healthcare organization departments and individuals to reduce risks.”

Risk assessments also can yield data used for performance measurement, facility accreditation, service improvements, and other quality assurance activities.

“Risk assessments may be prompted by the desire to create a safer workplace, federal, state, or local requirements, and by incidents such as reports of exposures or illnesses among HCP [healthcare professionals], infectious disease outbreaks, and device failures resulting in HCP exposures or injuries,” the CDC states in the guidelines.

The agency recommends using a hierarchy of controls, in order of descending priority:

  • Elimination: Physically remove the hazard;
  • Substitution: Replace the hazard;
  • Engineering controls: Isolate people from the hazard;
  • Administrative controls: Change the way people work;
  • Personal protective equipment: Protect the worker.

The CDC notes that commonly required regulations could be used to inform risk assessments. These requirements include:

  • OSHA logs of work-related injuries and illnesses meeting certain criteria, including infectious diseases exposures;
  • OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard requirements for evaluation and correction of identified problems in the respiratory protection program;
  • CMS requirements for reporting healthcare worker influenza immunization rates.

REFERENCE

  1. CDC HICPAC. Infection Control in Healthcare Personnel: Infrastructure and Routine Practices for Occupational Infection Prevention Services. Oct. 15, 2018. Available at: https://bit.ly/2JsbUPF.