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Dr. Stephen Cavalieri, PhD, Clinical Microbiologist, Professor of Pathology, Medical Microbiology and Immunology at Creighton University School of Medicine, provides an overview of the following:
Compliance with the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard
Employee training in understanding Bloodborne Pathogens
Reduced workplace liability
Improved safety and health in the workplace
A bloodborne pathogen is a micro-organism that may be present in blood or certain other body fluids and are capable of producing disease in others. Bloodborne pathogens include viruses, bacteria, fungi, prions, or any other micro-organisms, including parasites.
The three most frequently mentioned bloodborne pathogens include:
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Hepatitis B (HBV)
Hepatitis C (HCV)
There are other bloodborne pathogens as well. The list of infections known to have been transmitted via sharps injuries during patient care include:
Bloodborne Virus Transmission to Healthcare Personnel
Injuries from needles and other sharp devices used in healthcare and laboratory settings are associated with the occupational transmission of more than 20 pathogens (2-5, 14-16). HBV, HCV, and HIV are the most commonly transmitted pathogens during patient care (Table 1).
Employers and employees in all workplaces with occupational exposure or potential exposure to human blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) are required to comply with OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, since the blood/OPIM may contain pathogens capable of transmitting Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, and others.
Healthcare workers, medical and dental personnel, employees in medical or dental laboratories, workers in hospital laundries, housekeepers in healthcare facilities, and emergency first responders are examples of workers with potential exposure. But the Standard is not limited to healthcare professions. Any workplace with potential occupational exposure to human blood/OPIM is covered. That can include certain jobs in medical device manufacturers, law enforcement personnel, firefighting personnel, and others.
Workers who are assigned to provide emergency first-aid as part of their job duties are covered by the requirements of the Standard.
Perform a job hazard assessment to determine if workers in your workplace perform any task with potential exposure to blood/OPIM. If so, then the Standard applies to your workplace.
The BBP Standard requires coverage of specific topics such as the epidemiology and symptoms of bloodborne diseases, how bloodborne pathogens may be transmitted, the steps workers can take to protect themselves from exposure, what Personal Protective Equipment is used in the workplace, the Hepatitis B vaccine, to whom any BBP exposures must be reported, what steps to take in an exposure incident, etc.
Yes, but such training programs must be supplemented with site-specific training including interaction to provide answers to questions at the time of the training.
The Standard requires the following:
Medical records must be kept confidential and maintained for at least the duration of the injured worker’s employment plus 30 years beyond that. The clock starts when the injured worker’s term of employment ends.
Yes; the protections of the Standard are designed to prevent the FIRST exposure from ever occurring, and the use of safer medical devices is an important step in that goal.
Yes; contaminated PPE must be removed before leaving the work area.
Yes; contaminated sharps must be disposed in approved sharps containers. Other regulated waste must be placed in properly labeled or color-coded bags that contain all contents and prevent leakage. And beyond OSHA’s requirements for regulated waste, each state has other requirements concerning the management of regulated waste, and there may be local regulations as well.
Learn more about occupational exposures to blood in this pamphlet, with information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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