OSHA has important standards

on regulation of bloodborne pathogens

Key Takeaway:

OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard amends the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000, and brings important and useful additions to its predecessor. It is aimed at protecting the health of healthcare workers who are constantly exposed to bloodborne pathogens in their daily work.

OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard, described as standard 29 CFR 1910.1030, is an amendment of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000, from which it takes off.

The Bloodborne Pathogens standard relates to safeguards that OSHA has put in place for protecting workers from health hazards caused by contact with bloodborne pathogens. The main aim of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard being this; it has put in place important aspects relating to it. These consist of, but are not limited to:

  • Plans for exposure control
  • Collective precautions
  • Controls regarding engineering and work practice
  • Housekeeping
  • Safeguards in relation to protective equipment worn by staff
  • Vaccinations for Hepatitis B, since those exposed to bloodborne pathogens are vulnerable to it
  • Laboratories
  • Hazard communication and its training, and
  • Follow up and care post-exposure
  • Recordkeeping.

All these requirements are to be met by employers who employ workers in areas of bloodborne pathogens. The basis for this requirement is that these workers are vulnerable, since they are at risk of contracting several diseases from bloodborne pathogens.

To whom does the Bloodborne Pathogens standard apply?

OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard, along with its 2001 revisions, is to be complied with by all employers who have an employee or employees that have an occupational exposure. These exposures and their attendant hazards could result from the performance of the employee's duties. The exposures could include reasonably anticipated contact with:

  • Eye
  • Skin
  • Mucous membrane, or
  • Parenteral contact with blood or Other Potentially Infectious Materials (OPIM).

Employers that employ employees who are at risk of all these exposures have to mandatorily implement the requirements in this standard. A few of the new and clarified provisions in the OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard are relevant to only healthcare settings. Other provisions relate to non-healthcare as well as healthcare settings as well. These provisions include the requirement on updating the Exposure Control Plan and keeping a sharps injury log.

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