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The Path to Become HIPAA and OSHA Compliant

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The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, widely known as “OSHA,” was created for all sizes of employers and it requires them to comply with the safety standard laws. The standards are made to address workplace hazards, and how to reduce employee exposure to those hazards. The chance of employee injuries at the workplace goes lower by minimizing this exposure. OSHA requirements help to make sure that employers are providing a danger-free working condition for their employees. The Act has built Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to position and stiffen protective safety and health standards for the workplace. It assists by providing necessary information, training, and assistance to all workers and their employers. Let’s discuss the path of becoming an OSHA compliant below.

Become OSHA Compliant: Does It Apply to My Business?

Most employees in the U.S are covered by the OSHA Act. The private sector employers and employees in all of the 50 states are covered by it too. Employers are covered either directly through the federal OSHA law and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or through a “State Plan.” Roughly 40% of the states have their own “State Plan” for OSHA.  These safety programs have to be OSHA-approved and they must provide at least as much safety protection to employees as federal OSHA does.

Most employees in the U.S. are covered by the OSH Act, and it covers both employers and employees of the private sector throughout the 50 states. Each employer is either covered through the federal OSHA law and Occupational Safety and Health Administration in a direct manner or through a “State Plan.” It’s mentionable that roughly 40% of the states carry their own OSHA “State Plan.” However, to be OSHA-approved, these safety programs have to provide a similar level of safety protection to employees just like the federal OSHA does.

You might also like to read: 7 FACTS THAT PROOF HIPAA COMPLIANCE ENHANCES HEALTHCARE SECURITY

Does OSHA require to keep records of PHI under HIPAA?

Technically, HIPAA and OSHA cross each other. OSHA requires keeping records of certain information which represents protected health information (PHI) under HIPAA.

The covered entities, such as health care providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses are entitled to implement safeguards preventing PHI from improper use or disclosure- a mandatory requirement by the HIPAA Privacy Rule to become HIPAA compliant.

The essential requirement of the HIPAA privacy rule allows the covered entities to use or disclose protected health information (PHI) only when the person subjected to the information provides written authorization. Many employers are not covered entities. In those cases, they are not subject to the Privacy Rule restriction for using or disclosing PHI without written authorization.

The Privacy Rule favors an exception to the general restriction despite an employer being obligated to OSHA recordkeeping and a covered entity. The exception allows using or disclosing PHI for public health activities, which includes government-required recordings of illness or injury. For this reason, under the Privacy Rule, covered entities have been given specific permission to use or disclose PHI and comply with OSHA recordkeeping requirements.

The Path to Become OSHA Compliant

OSHA standards convey rules and regulations, and they describe methods that employers must use for protecting workers from hazards. The OSHA standards are applicable for agriculture, construction, maritime, and general industry. Among those, the first industries are specialized industries where the risks of worker injury are comparably high. The general industry incorporates most businesses in America, like medical and dental offices, and specialist offices.

Each industry goes through a specific set of standards to become compliant. For instance, the general industry has to follow the Hazard Communication Standard. It requires employers to keep their employees aware of dangerous chemicals in the worksite and supply safety precautions from exposure to such elements. Then there’s the bloodborne pathogens standard, which requires employers to implement measurements so that the risk of employees being exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials reduces. 

The Fire Prevention Plan Standard makes it mandatory to develop a fire safety plan by employers and instruct their employees on how to prevent fires from taking place, and how they should respond to fires if break out. Employers also have to obey the “General Duty” Clause of the OSH Act. It’s a “catchall” provision and it requires employers to keep their workplaces free of serious recognized hazards, no matter any particular standard applies to the hazard or not.

The Path to Become HIPAA Compliant

The Security Rule under HIPAA requires organizations to have three types of security measures in the workplace for protecting PHI:

1. Administrative Safeguards 

These are the policies and procedures that show how the administration of an entity complies with HIPAA. Covered entities must create a written list of privacy procedures and introduce a privacy officer, whose job will be implementing these procedures.

You might also like to read: WHAT IS OSHA COMPLIANCE AND WHY DO YOU NEED TO WORRY ABOUT IT?

Procedures should also lay out everyone who has access to Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI) as a mandatory part of the job and clarify authorization, establishment, modification, and termination rules for PHI. 

Covered entities should do businesses with parties that comply with the necessary safeguards, and make sure that those parties only work with other HIPAA-compliant entities.

2. Physical Safeguards

Physical Safeguards are made to protect the actual physical process of handling all the information and data. Under the Physical Safeguards rules, it is stated that any introduction and disposal of hardware and software through open networks has to be carefully monitored. Also, the equipment containing PHI must be properly monitored with restricted access, and only those who are authorized may have access to hardware and software. 

Employers must create a facility security plan for the place, make sure to keep the maintenance records up-to-date and introduce a sign-in process for every visitor on the premises. They also need to ensure that the workstations are treated appropriately and the information is not visible in high-traffic areas.

All contractors that are involved also have to be aware of and comply with these physical safeguards procedures to become HIPAA compliant.

3. Technical Safeguards

These safeguards are specifically made to ensure that the shared PHI through electronic communications cannot be intercepted by outside parties. To become HIPAA Compliant, systems with PHI must be secured from invasion, the shared data over networks should be encrypted. Every entity must ensure the data has not been tampered with, and they may carry out further technical safeguards to secure authentication if needed.

The covered entities have to be certain about the authenticity of individuals that they communicate with, and they must provide documentation of HIPAA practices. This is needed so the government can determine compliance.

HIPAA Ready is a robust, modern, cloud-based HIPAA compliance software designed for streamlining compliance efforts and removing complications in the process. Using the single centralized platform, your organization can perform risk assessments, maintain documentation, set up employee training, and manage incidents without complexities.

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