In any nursing home or other health care facility, a basic requirement is that it be staffed with employees who do not pose a risk of dangerous infection to its residents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released guidance for employers to help protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus. By following these safety measures, nursing homes will reduce the risk of infection to essential health care workers as well as their vulnerable residents.
According to OSHA, nursing home operators should:
- Screen workers and residents regularly for signs and symptoms consistent with the coronavirus. Send sick workers home or to seek medical care;
- Closely monitor and take additional precautions regarding employees and residents who may have been exposed to an individual with the coronavirus;
- Ask visitors to inform the facility if they develop a fever or symptoms consistent with the coronavirus within 14 days of their visit;
- Maintain at least 6 feet between workers, residents, and visitors to the extent possible, including while workers perform their duties and during breaks;
- Stagger break periods to avoid crowding in breakrooms;
- Consider alternatives to in-person large group gatherings (e.g., staff meetings, resident activities);
- Continually monitor personal protective equipment (PPE) stocks, burn rate, and supply chains. Develop a process to decontaminate and reuse PPE, such as face shields and goggles, as appropriate. Follow CDC recommendations for optimization of PPE supplies; and
- Encourage workers to report any safety and health concerns.
While nothing can completely eliminate the risk of infection, adoption of these safety measures will protect both employees and residents, and help create a safer nursing home environment.
To read this guidance from OSHA, use this link: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA4025.pdf