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September 21, 2005
JCAHO vs OSHA: Is Compliance Mutually Exclusive
Safety and health managers in healthcare face a challenge when it comes to administering Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO) and OSHA safety and health compliance programs. Healthcare administrators can't choose JCAHO or OSHA--they must address the requirements for both entities. Joseph McFadden, CHSP, President of McFadden & Associates gave an overview of the differences and similarities between JCAHO and OSHA to healthcare professionals attending his session at the NSC.

Some of the differences between the two organizations include the following:

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  • JCAHO has standards for healthcare facilities only. OSHA has standards for many industries.
  • JCAHO does not issue monetary fines. OSHA may issue monetary fines.
  • A non-compliant review by JCAHO may lead to non-accreditation. Failure to comply with OSHA standards usually leads to citations which may include monetary fines.
  • JCAHO may perform "unannounced" inspections but not always. The majority of OSHA inspections are unannounced.
  • JCAHO requires written follow-up reports. OSHA requires a written plan of action.
  • JCAHO requires written policies and procedures. OSHA may require written safety and health plans and procedures.
  • JCAHO covers patients, visitors, and staff safety. OSHA covers employee safety only.
  • JCAHO uses performance oriented criteria to meet the intent of standards. OSHA uses performance oriented standards.
  • JCAHO requires staff training. OSHA requires employee training.
  • JCAHO follows OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard. OSHA enforces the bloodborne pathogens standard.
  • JCAHO addresses the Life Safety Code. OSHA requires emergency and fire protection plans.

Passing a JCAHO inspection does not mean passing an OSHA inspection. OSHA standards help meet the goals of JCAHO EC standards. Employees must have access to both sets of standards. Meeting both sets of standards requires support from top management and requires funding and staff allotment. Both sets of standards can be administered by the same trained and competent employees. Use what you can of both and add to it.

JCAHO and OSHA complement each other. They do not mutually exclude each other.

Read more at Safety.BLR.com's 2005 NSC Congress & Expo Resources Center.

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