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OSHA issues Compliance Directive for H1N1 in Healthcare Institutions

OSHA has announced that they will issue a compliance directive that will implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Interim Guidance on Infection Control Measures for the H1N1 2009 Influenza in healthcare settings. This is a first move from the offer a requirement posture for dealing H1N1.

OSHA Directives will prescribe a uniform procedure that governs OSHA inspections of the healthcare institutions for the occupational exposure to the swine flu. The covered healthcare set by OSHA includes acute care nursing homes, hospitals, physicians’ offices, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, home healthcare agencies and urgent care centers. Based on the employee complaints, OSHA will conduct a thorough inspection.

Though it is not clear of how much CDC guidance will be included into the OSHA’s directive and the level of compliance will be required, healthcare employers are advised to make reasonable efforts ensuring their postings conform, procedures, policies and forms with the CDC’s recommendations. It includes hierarchy of controls and N95 respirators/facemasks.

CDC recommends the use of hierarchy of controls by the healthcare facilities for preventing H1N1 exposure and transmission. It has also recommended the use of facemasks for respiratory protection. For those personnel who are in contact with suspected or confirmed H1N1 patients, they are required to use the fit-tested disposable N95 respirator.

All these measures are strictly mandated by OSHA for those healthcare institutes to tackle the H1N1 influenza.