The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets forth safety regulations that govern health and safety in all workplaces. OSHA regulations for veterinary offices are wide in scope, and include labeling standards for hazardous materials, record keeping requirements, safety standards for administering anesthesia to animals and the need to continually train employees for safety standards.
Hazard Communication Standard
OSHA regulations require veterinary offices to take special measures regarding the handling of toxic substances. For any toxic substance that a veterinary office may handle, the office is required to obtain a material data safety sheet and place it in an area accessible to employees. This document provides employees with instructions on how to safely handle toxic substances and sets out emergency procedures for a particular toxic substance. OSHA also requires that all toxic substances be clearly labeled and identified as toxic.
OSHA requires veterinary offices to maintain certain documents and records. If the office has at least 10 employees, it must keep a log of all workplace-related injuries and illnesses sustained by employees. On OSHA Form 300, the office must record each work-related injury or illness, the name of the employee involved, the employee’s job duties, the date of injury, where the injury-causing event occurred, a description of the injury and the amount of work days missed by the employee. The office must prepare an incident report for all accidents or injuries that occur. At the end of the year, the veterinary office must prepare a summary of all work-related accidents and injuries. All these records must be available to OSHA for inspection upon request.
OSHA regulations require veterinary offices to take special precautions when administering anesthesia to animals. The anesthesia equipment in a veterinary office must contain a system, such as a central vacuum system or passive duct system, to prevent excess anesthesia gas from building up indoors. Anesthesia technicians in a veterinary hospital must take care to choose a mask and tracheal tube that suits the animal being administered anesthesia. Once an anesthesia technician concludes the administration of anesthesia, OSHA regulations require the emptying of the breathing bag into a scavenging system, not into the room.
OSHA requires the owners of veterinary offices to continually train employees as a means of preventing a variety of risks that may arise in the workplace. A veterinary office is required to revise and train employees regarding fire prevention, fire protection, first-aid and evacuation procedures. Employees must know how to properly use protective equipment, including eye and face equipment, respiratory equipment, head protection, foot protection and hand protection. Employees must also be trained in detecting and handling toxic substances, such as formaldehyde and ethylene oxide, as well as preventing the spread of blood-borne toxins.