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OSHA—What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You, Part II

Contact Author Alex R. Thiersch April 2015 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
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According to Steve Wilder, president of Sorensen, Wilder & Associates, a safety and security risk management consulting group specializing in health care, medical spa owners and operators must comply with seven particular Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards: Bloodborne pathogens—exposure control plan; hazard communication; record-keeping; slips, trips and falls; tuberculosis; workplace violence; and laser safety.

The specific requirements for each standard can be found on OSHA’s website (www.osha.gov). In general, compliance for each standard requires commitment from management and employees; workplace analysis; detailed hazard prevention and control procedures; the completion of training programs; and detailed record-keeping utilizing OSHA’s Form 300 log and Form 300A summary.

“If you’ve got the proper programs in place in those seven areas, including the written programs, the training programs and everything that’s required, you’re going to be in pretty good shape,” says Steve Wilder, president of Sorensen, Wilder & Associates. “It can be expensive, but there are a lot of alternate ways around it. You can find different ways to be creative—such as online training—and still meet the intent of the requirement.”

What happens if a medical spa does not comply?

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If OSHA conducts an audit on a medical spa and finds that it is in violation of workplace standards, the spa will be fined considerably.

“OSHA has enforcement authority under the federal government,” says Wilder. “The standards that they develop can be enforced under penalty of law. What that means is that if they come in and audit a health-care provider—whether it’s a spa, hospital, nursing home, an ambulance or whatever—and they identify places in which the health-care provider is not compliant with the standards, they then have the authority to issue monetary fines.”

And those fines can be severe. OSHA can issue a fine of up to $7,500 for a first offense, though it is more likely that such a fine will be in the range of $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the severity of the deficiency. It’s also important to know that each additional violation will result in an additional fine.

Plus, you cannot be insured against such fines, so they will come directly off of your bottom line.

“I looked at [a case] for a nursing home client a couple of months ago and, when OSHA got done with them, their total penalties were more than $45,000,” explains Wilder. “And with no insurance to cover it, that’s a heck of a bite.”

And if a violation for which you have already been cited is found during a subsequent visit, or if said violation is found at a different location that is owned by the same person or company, OSHA has the authority to fine you up to $75,000 for that violation.

“You need to take it seriously,” cautions Wilder. “OSHA is not getting any gentler; they’re not getting any more workplace-friendly. They’re aggressive. Expect the assault on health care to continue, and now with the Ebola situation, expect them to be really aggressive in infection control in all areas of medical care. Their focus is protecting employees.Anywhere employees can get exposed to an injury risk or to an illness risk, they’re aggressive about it.”

Knowledge is power

Bringing your medical spa up to OSHA code is a necessity, and OSHA does not accept ignorance as an excuse. Now that you know what is expected of your business, you must take the necessary steps and move forward in order to avoid major financial penalties that very easily could result in the closing of your business.

Editor’s note: Part I of this article, which appeared in the March 2015 issue of Skin Inc., discussed a specific scenario in which a medical spa failed to follow OSHA standards.

Alex R. Thiersch is the founder and director of the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa). AmSpa recently partnered with Sorensen, Wilder & Associates to provide the OSHA Self-assessment Checklist for Medical Spas, which can be purchased at bit.ly/1CZLXAD. AmSpa members receive a 20% discount. Visit www.americanmedspa.org or contact Thiersch at alex@americanmedspa.org for more information.

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