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TJC Clarifies Food and Drink Safety for Clinicians

The Joint Commission has issued guidance regarding clinical staff having food and drink in the work space. The recent March edition of Perspectives provides several clarification points to help organizations address this persistent challenge.

Clarification 1: Joint Commission standards do not specifically address where staff can have food or drink in work areas.

While The Joint Commission does not mandate where staff can eat or drink, the Leadership (LD) Standard LD.04.01.01 directs that organizations follow licensure requirements, laws, regulations and OSHA’s Standards regarding exposure to Blood Borne Pathogens.  OSHA standards are fairly prescriptive that food/drink should not be consumed or stored where exposure or potential exposure to blood or possibly infectious/toxic materials exist or where they may have contaminated work surfaces.  What organizations must conduct is contained under the next clarification.

Clarification 2: Health care organizations may determine safe spaces for food and drink that comply with an employer’s evaluation or exposure control plans.

Organizations must, per OSHA guidelines, conduct a risk assessment to determine the areas of potential exposure and ensure staff are made aware of the restrictions of not having food/drink stored or consumed in these locations.  Additionally, the risk assessment would provide locations of where food/drink consumption and storage are acceptable.  It is important that organizations consider any local laws or health codes as they conduct their risk assessment.

Source:  The Joint Commission Perspectives®, March 2019, Volume 39, Issue 3



Christopher Pratt

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