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Issue: 32 - Aug 15, 2011
Back to School For Your OSHA Program, Too!
By: Chery F. Kendrick, DVM, MPVM, MLT, ASCP, CFS
Kendrick Technical Services, LLC
The end of summer brings changes in staffing as summer hires return to school and employees who are parents see a more orderly schedule return to their lives as their children report back to class. “Back to school” should also signal a fall cleaning period for your OSHA program. Some of the things we need to look at:
1) Inspect Your Practice for Hazards
Have you done a self-inspection for hazards lately? Now would be a great time to do that. Check the clinic for summer clutter and get ready for fall cleaning by doing a self-inspection. For a free self-inspection checklist for the veterinary clinic click on this link:
2) Employee Training
As the new fall employees and students come on board this is a good time to review your OSHA training program. OSHA training guidelines are as follows: All employees must receive training on practice hazards and ways to protect themselves from those hazards at the following times:
a) Upon hire
b) When new items or job duties are introduced
c) Annually for review
While federal OSHA does not require monthly safety meetings, some states do. We recommend incorporating an OSHA topic or issue into your monthly staff meetings. This is a great way to discuss any safety issues that have come up and readdress safety rules in the clinic.
3) PPE
Fall is a great time to evaluate your personal protective equipment for wear and tear, appropriateness and availability. For example, X-ray your lead-lined gowns, gloves and thyroid shields to make sure there are no leaks. Ask the staff if there are any recommendations they would like to make regarding PPE. Remember, the best way to assure compliance with staff wearing PPE is to make sure they are comfortable with the PPE you have. Make sure you have
enough of the correct sizes of exam gloves to encourage employees to wear them. Be sure you are considering special needs as they arise for employees.
4) Security of Place and Information
One of the most overlooked security issues in the fall deals with the access to your facility by summer employees. Be sure to retrieve those keys that may have been handed out to summer employees. Some clinics simply re-key each fall or between school semesters to ensure that there is no unauthorized access to the building. Also, don’t forget the passwords and security codes that may have been provided - be sure to ensure the safety of your information and files by changing those codes and passwords that allow access to the clinic and computers. It is critical for the safety of your employees, as well as your information and materials.
5) End-of-Summer Review Meeting
Many clinics find it extremely helpful and revealing to have an end-of-summer review meeting. Here we discuss what went well and what didn’t work. Let staff tell you how they felt about summer specials, summer programs and most especially about your summer workforce. Remember to value your yearlong regular employees by asking their opinion and asking for constructive criticism to help plan for the future. By emphasizing team building by staff involvement in any reviews or constructive criticism you will be able to avoid many of the pitfalls of interim hires. Encouraging the staff to see the glass as half full is also a good part of stress reduction workshops and a valuable part of productive meetings. See link here on Stress Reduction Workshops for the Veterinary Practice:
Summer’s end brings thoughts of fall colors, cool days and football! Let it also bring thoughts of fall cleanup time for your OSHA program. Stay safe out there.
Chery F. Kendrick, DVM, MPVM, MLT, CFS is a writer, educator, speaker and consultant. She is the nation’s leading veterinary regulatory control expert, and spends time in Washington D.C., advocating for the veterinary profession at the various regulatory agencies. Her manuals and training programs are used by clinics and animal care facilities nationwide. She speaks nationwide at association meetings and workshops. Please feel free to contact her with your questions or visit her web site at