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Gary Evans writes Hospital Infection Control & Prevention (HIC), Hospital Employee Health (HEH) and contributes to IRB Advisor (IRB). As senior writer at AHC, Evans has written numerous articles on infectious disease threats to both patients and health care workers, including pandemic influenza, MERS and Ebola. He has been honored for excellence in analytical reporting five times by the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
Political reality has put the sword to a broad injury prevention rule favored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but a proposed infectious disease standard is still under discussion. In addition, enforcement remains a priority for the agency, and health care employers can still expect increased scrutiny, safety experts say.
OSHA Administration David Michaels, PhD, MPH, has repeatedly said his “top priority” was to implement an injury and illness prevention program (I2P2) rule, which would require employers to look for hazards and take steps to prevent injuries. This spring, the agency bumped I2P2 to “long-term action” on its regulatory agenda, which means it is likely dead for the remainder of the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, OSHA says it intends to move forward with a proposed infectious disease standard for health care. It’s not clear yet what an infectious disease rule might encompass, but in its most recent regulatory agenda, OSHA cited the risks of diseases ranging from tuberculosis to MRSA and said: “OSHA is concerned about the ability of employees to continue to provide health care and other critical services without unreasonably jeopardizing their health. OSHA is considering the need for a standard to ensure that employers establish a comprehensive infection control program and control measures to protect employees from infectious disease exposures to pathogens that can cause significant disease.”
For more on this story see the Sept. 2014 issue of Hospital Employee Health