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Hand Washing for Healthcare Facilities

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Understanding OSHA Standards

[By Dr. David E. Marcinko; FACFAS, MBA, CPHQ, CMP™]

[By Patricia A. Trites; MPA, CHBC, CHCC, CMP™ (Hon)]

The OSHA Standards for healthcare require that hand washing facilities be readily available to employees.


Hand washing facilities are defined as a facility providing an adequate supply of:

  • running potable water;
  • antiseptic soap; and
  • single-use disposable towels or hot air drying machines.


The hand washing facilities must be located where the employee will have easy access. This will ensure that the employee will be likely to use the hand washing facility and will minimize the time that the contamination will remain in contact with the employee. In those instances where the provision of hand washing facilities is not feasible, either an appropriate antiseptic hand cleaner (e.g., alcohol-based rinse, antiseptic foam, or antiseptic-impregnated paper wipes) in conjunction with clean cloth or paper towels, or antiseptic towelettes, must be provided.

Soap and Running Water

When using antiseptic hand cleansers or towelettes, the hands must be washed with soap and running water as soon as feasible. Not only must the employer provide the hand washing facilities, he or she must also ensure that employees in fact do wash their hands immediately or as soon as feasible following contact with blood or other potentially infectious material [OPIM].

The employee must also wash his or her hands immediately after removal of gloves or other personal protective equipment [PPE]. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that hand washing occurs. OSHA states that hand washing must be strictly enforced by the employer.





How has OSHA affected your hospital, medical practice or healthcare facility?

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8 Responses

  1. Ms. Trites and Dr. Fenton,

    I have seen ID doctors not wash their hands, before and after entering a patient room … disgusting and unsafe!



  2. Patricia, Dr. Fenton and the ME-P

    A perfect post for the H1N1 swine flu era. Keep up the good work!



  3. Patricia and Dr. Fenton,

    Here is an article by Bob Wachter MD, regarding the above.


    What would Gomer Pyle USMC say; shame … shame … shame!



  4. This [lack of] hand-washing situation is so appalling that it should be grounds for immediate dismissal.

    Dr. [Not Mister] Ed


  5. And now … the “handwashing” police

    The story of one hospital’s simple measure to defeat infections.



  6. Poor infection control at many surgery centers?

    A new federal study found that many same day or ambulatory out patient surgery centers — where patients get such things as foot operations, plastic surgery and pain injections — have serious problems with infection control.


    In fact, 70 percent studied had at least one lapse, including failing to wash hands.

    Now, I co-owned an ASC for more than a decade without a nosocomial-type, or HAI styled, post-op infection. I even wrote a major textbook on lower extremity bone, joint and soft tissue infections, and opined as an expert medical and surgical witness [deposition and trial] on many occasions.

    So, is this really the case?

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA


  7. Progress on HAIs?

    A just released report by the state Department of Health showed that Pennsylvania reduced the number of healthcare-associated infections, or HAIs, reported by hospitals.

    From 2008 to 2009, there was a 12.5 percent decrease in HAIs, which are defined as infections that patients acquired while in a healthcare setting and were not present when they were admitted for care.

    Click to access 20100625report_full_infection.pdf

    Hope Hetico; RN, MHA
    [Managing Editor]


  8. Hospital infection deaths caused by ignorance and neglect

    The Washington Post just reported that deadly yet easily preventable bloodstream infections continue to plague American hospitals because facility administrators fail to commit resources and attention to the problem, according to a survey of medical professionals just released.


    Is this an abomination, or what?



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