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Frequently Asked OSHA Questions

We get many questions about the OSHA rules for veterinary practices. Sometimes the questions deal with interpreting a standard.  Sometimes the question simply is "How do I do that?"  Sometimes the question is to clarify an issue with conflicting advice.  No matter what the question, we're here to help.

We've taken some of the most common questions and used excerpts from The Complete Veterinary Practice Regulatory Compliance Manual and past issues of The Veterinary Safety & Health Digest to answer them here for you.  If you have a question that you'd like answered, send us a message and we'll do our best to get you the correct information. Of course, all questions are confidential and we'll never let anyone else know who asked it, but if we think the question is one that a lot of folks would like to know the answer to, we may use it in The Digest or on this site without revealing the identity of the originator.

Just click on one of the questions below to get the answer!

New Stuff! 

How do we properly dispose of products we no longer want to use?

We don't have a break room.  Is food and drink really a safety problem in the treatment room?

General Safety & Paperwork Issues

Is there a Canadian equivalent of OSHA?

Can OSHA inspect my hospital if I'm not present?

Can OSHA really "shut us down" and do they collect fines at the time of an inspection?

We share space in our practice with a veterinary specialist who operates his own business.  Are we responsible for his employees' safety?

We're really trying, but find it difficult to gain momentum...How do we get our OSHA program started?

How often should we update our safety plans?

I know we need to keep records of accidents and injuries, but I'm confused about the process. Exactly what paperwork is required?

How do we know if an injury is "work related?

How do we conduct an investigation after an accident?


I've heard the term HAZMAT. Does that apply to veterinary hospitals?

How do we know which chemicals are hazardous?

What's the best way to organize my Safety Data Sheet (SDS) library?

What's the difference between an MSDS and an SDS?

Do we really need an SDS for drugs in our pharmacy?

I know we are supposed to label containers of chemicals but what's the best system to use?

Do I need to label each and every drug bottle with a hazard materials label?

I've heard there was a change to the label rules recently. Do I need to change the labels we use in our hospital?

Is it true that we can't use a faucet-mounted eye wash device?

Are there any special rules covering the use of drugs in the veterinary practice?  What about chemotherapy and hormone drugs?

Can we make our own chemical spill kit instead of purchasing a commercial one?

Animal & Medical Related Issues

Does OSHA really have regulations covering animal bites or scratches?

Are employee's pets or hospital mascots who roam freely in the hospital considered a hazard?

Does OSHA require rabies vaccinations for veterinary staff members?

What is "Noise Hazard" in a veterinary hospital?

Are there specific isolation procedures we must follow when an animal is diagnosed with a zoonotic disease?

What constitutes a "good" hand washing?

Are hand sanitizers as effective as hand washing?

Our associate is pregnant and wants to wear a respirator during surgery.  Is this a good idea?

I know we need to have our anesthesia machines checked every year.  How do we find a qualified company to do the maintenance checks?

What are the safety rules for using surgical or therapy laser in the veterinary practice?

What are the safety rules for taking radiographs in the veterinary practice? Are they the same for digital or dental radiographs?

Sharps & Medical Waste

How does the Needlestick Safety Prevention Act affect veterinary practices?

Can we clean and reuse disposable needles and syringes?

Is it against OSHA rules to recap a needle?  How can we do it safely?

Fire & Emergencies

Do I really need to post an evacuation diagram in my clinic?

In an emergency evacuation, can staff members be instructed to "grab an animal on the way out?"

Do fire extinguishers expire?

Miscellaneous Issues

Is workplace violence a problem in the veterinary practice?

How can we take security more seriously but still maintain accessibility for our staff?

We are not really good at delivering bad news to people.  Are there suggestions that will at least make it safer for us when we do?

A staff member just informed us that she is pregnant.  How do we proceed with safety issues during the pregnancy?

Can our associate wear a respirator while doing surgery if she is pregnant.

What are the safety training requirements for veterinary practices?

Our meetings just don't seem to be productive.  What can we do to make them more useful?





Did You Know...?

The most recent demographic data shows that veterinary medicine students currently are comprised of:

5% Hispanic,
2% African American,
1% Asian/Pacific Islander
less than 1% Native American
more than 90% Caucasian.

As of 2018, the AVMA reported there were 113,394 veterinarians in the United States:

Female: 69,908 (up from 55,253 in 2013)
Male: 43,345 (down from 44,281 in 2013)
Unknown or not answered: 141

Click here to view the source of this information from the AVMA.