OSHA and HIPAA Compliance for Medical and Dental Practices

OSHA and HIPAA Compliance for Medical and Dental Practices

As most medical and dental professionals may know already, OSHA is always watching for the workers’ and patients’ wellbeing. As a natural consequence and because of the power this agency has, OSHA is also willing to set dramatic penalties to those professionals and organizations that don’t take the proper measures to keep the work environment hazard-free.

But there is more: the well-known HIPAA represents another strong legal commitment to medical and dental practices across the United States. Not being compliant on both puts the practice in serious risk of expensive fines and other penalties.

At Level Safety Consulting, we want you to know what OSHA demands to medical and dental practices, also the details of being HIPAA compliant.

What is OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, is a federal agency that oversees the healthful working conditions, also being responsible for enforcing the necessary standards. This agency is part of the United States Department of Labor and it was established in 1970.

OSHA embraces all industries in the US, using different guidelines with each. To enforce these guidelines, the agency conducts audits to know in detail if the office is respecting the law in question.

OSHA Standards in Medical and Dental Offices

As the OSHA standards are extraordinarily vast and complex, we will only address the most relevant ones for medical and dental offices, those that cover the biggest hazards in the practice.

At Level Safety Consulting, we are experts in OSHA standards, making us the best ally for medical and dental practices in the US.

  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Hazard Communication (popularly known as “employee right-to-know”)
  • Ionizing Radiation
  • Exit Routes
  • Electrical
  • OSHA Poster
  • Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses

What is HIPAA?

On the other side, we have HIPAA. Also, known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, it was enacted in 1996. Title II of HIPAA established nation-wide standards for PHI, which stands for Protected Health Information.

HIPAA was born after realizing that the healthcare record system in the US needed important modifications. Before this act, it was terribly difficult to successfully change from an insurance company or doctor as the healthcare records contained highly sensitive information and handling the file from one side to the other was risky.

Avoiding Serious Fines

Medical and dental practices that fail in meeting both OSHA’s and HIPAA’s standards face important fines. The responsible professionals must do everything within their reach to meet these standards and respect the protocols already defined by law.

OSHA can fine organizations up to $70,000 per violation, while HIPAA can do it for $50,000 per violation. These fines, when accumulated, have a yearly limit but can easily go beyond the $1,000,000-mark. “Not knowing” mistakes may be as bad as willful scenarios, so be careful.

At Level Safety Consulting, we always recommend our clients to have the initiative in this matter. If your practice gets audited by either OSHA or HIPAA, you could suffer terrible fines that could jeopardize your entire operation.

Properly setting up your office to meet these standards is not only recommended but necessary. OSHA is looking for workers’ and patients’ wellbeing, so should you too. In the case of HIPAA, everything related to Protected Health Information carries an important responsibility that ethical professionals need to face.

Understanding the OSHA Inspection Process

Understanding the OSHA Inspection Process

The following is an overview of what to expect during an active OSHA Inspection or Mock OSHA Inspection.


 To provide a general understanding of:

  • Inspection types
  • What generates an inspection
  • Procedures of a compliance inspection
  • Rights and responsibilities of employers and employees
  • What happens after an inspection


Inspection Types/Priorities

  • Imminent danger
  • Fatality/catastrophe
  • Complaints
  • Referrals
  • Follow-up
  • Programmed


  • Special Emphasis Programs (SEP)
  • Health Hazards
  • Long Term Care
  • Logging/Arboriculture
  • Sawmills, Veneer, Manufactured Home and Other Wood Products
  • Construction
  • Food Manufacturing

Workplace Entry


  • Normal working hours
  • Credentials
  • Refusal
  • Interference
  • Special situations
    • Inspect on 2nd/3rd shift
    • Security clearance
    • Sampling

Opening Conference


  • Purpose and scope
  • Records inspection
  • Walk around representatives
  • Trade secrets


Walk Around Inspection

  • Scope
  • Program evaluation
  • Safety/health inspection
  • Interviews
  • Photographs


Closing Conference

  • Discuss findings and potential alleged violations
  • Employer and employee rights and responsibilities
  • Form 59


After the Inspection

  • Citations or in compliance
  • Abatement
  • Violation types
  • Penalties
  • Informal conference
  • Contestment
  • Discrimination




  • Issuance
    • Received by certified mail
  • Posting
    • Three days or until the hazards are abated, whichever is longer





  • Date-extension
  • OSHA Form 2D
  • Follow-up inspection



Types of OSHA Violations

  • Serious

» “Deemed to exist in the place of employment if there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result.…”

  • Non-serious

» “Situations where the accident or illness that would be most likely to result from a hazardous condition would probably not cause death or serious physical harm….”


  • Willful
    • When evidence shows either an intentional violation of the act or plain indifference to its
  • Criminal-Willful
    • The employer willfully violates any standard which causes death of an employee and is found
  • Repeat
    • The employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar
  • Failure to Abate
    • The employer has not corrected a previously cited violation which has become final


Hazard Assessments



  • Most likely an injury or illness resulting from exposure



» Number of employees exposed

» Frequency and duration of exposure

» Employee distance from the hazard

» Other factors

Maximum Penalties

  • Willful – $70,000
  • Serious – $7,000 (*exception)
  • Repeat – $7,000 (x2, x5, x10)
  • Failure to Abate – $7,000/day
  • Non-serious – may have monetary value


Penalty Adjustment Factors



(# of Employees)

251+ 176-250 131-175 91-130 56-90 26-55 1-25
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
History 10%
Safety and Health Programs 0%, 10%, 25%, 40%



Informal Conference

  • Time frame
  • Post request
  • Settlement agreement – posted
  • Notice of amended citations
  • Notice of no change


You May Contest

  • Any part of citation
  • Written
  • Time frame
  • Administrative Law Judge
  • OSH Review Commission



  • It is unlawful to discriminate against employees who file safety or health complaints or request an OSHA inspection.



Other Issues

  • Possible Criminal penalties



  • Inspection types
  • What generates an inspection
  • Procedures of a compliance inspection
  • Rights and responsibilities of employers and employees


OSHA Compliance Construction Fall Protection and Prevention

OSHA Compliance: Construction Fall Protection and Prevention.


We strongly believe that prevention is better than getting fined by OSHA or worst, having an accident on job site. OSHA sets the standard allowing many manufacturers to produce cutting edge fall protection and prevention to avoid occurrences of unfortunate accidents, incidents or events on construction sites, general industrial sites, hospitals, offices and similar areas that may expose the people present there to life-threatening accidents. As a whole, everyone has a duty to have and provide fall protection. Statistics indicate that a large number of deaths occur during work on constructions sites – we aim to bring the number down to zero with our broad, all-inclusive and holistic approach to fall protection and prevention.

In addition to our other services, we also offer, safety consulting, OSHA Compliance, Risk Assessments, Jobsite Safety Manuals (Required by OSHA), Construction Site Inspections and Audits, and Root Cause Analysis in the uneventful time you have an accident. We also provide equipment safety awareness training where we make sure the employees are well informed about the equipment they frequently put to use and how it may be dangerous if handled improperly. It is necessary the employees should know the workings of their workplace inside out so that they should take preventive measures, and if a challenging situation should ever befall them, they must have access to proper safety means and must know how to tackle the situation – thus saving their own lives and their colleagues’. On the employers’ part – it is crucial they provide their employees with adequate safety equipment and means and ensure total security at all times, while present on the site.

Basically, we address complacency and loopholes that may be present as, or in the following areas:

  1. Walking/working surfaces – The employer must determine if the walking/working surfaces on which the employees are to work have the strength and structural integrity to support employees and the functioning of the workplace safely. Only once the surfaces have the requisite strength and structural integrity must the employees be permitted to work on them.
  2. Unprotected sides and edges – Guardrail systems, safety net systems and/or personal fall arrest systems are to be employed wherever an employee is expected to walk/work on. Each employee who is constructing a leading edge 6 feet (1.8 m) or more above lower levels shall be protected from falling by guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems. However, in the event that the employer is able to demonstrate that it is inconvenient do so, or it creates an even greater hazard to use these systems, the employer ought to develop and implement an alternate fall protection plan.
  3. Hoist areas – Each employee in a hoist area must be protected from falling 6 feet (1.8 m) or more to lower levels by guardrail systems or personal fall arrest systems. If guardrail systems, [or chain, gate, or guardrail] or portions thereof, are removed to facilitate the hoisting operation (e.g., during landing of materials), and an employee must lean through the access opening or out over the edge of the access opening (to receive or guide equipment and materials, for example), that employee shall be protected from fall hazards by a personal fall arrest system.
  4. Holes – Each employee on walking/working surfaces shall be protected from falling through holes (including skylights) more than 6 feet (1.8 m) above lower levels, by personal fall arrest systems, covers, or guardrail systems erected around such holes.
  5. Excavations – Guardrail systems, fences, or barricades must be installed where the excavations are not readily seen due to plant growth or other visual barriers.
  6. Dangerous equipment – All employees must be protected from falling into or onto the dangerous equipment by guardrail systems or by equipment guards.
  7. Steep roofs.
  8. Wall openings.
  9. Protection from falling objects – When an employee is exposed to falling objects, it is up to the employer to have each employee wear a hard hat and possibly implement one or all of the following measures: Erect toeboards, screens, or guardrail systems to prevent objects from falling from higher levels, or, erect a canopy structure and keep objects that are suspected of falling far enough from the edge of the higher level so that those objects would not go over the edge if they were accidentally displaced. Also, barricade the area to which objects could fall, prohibit employees from entering the barricaded area, and keep objects that may fall far enough away from the edge of a higher level so that those objects would not go over the edge if they were accidentally displaced.

OSHA Compliance: Construction Fall Protection and Prevention.