Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens

Employees can be exposed to bloodborne pathogens at any time. OSHA has outlined these important steps that all employees should understand if they are involved in a bloodborne pathogens exposure incident.

If you are stuck by a needle or other sharp, or get blood or other potentially infectious materials in your eyes, nose, mouth, or on broken skin:
  1. Immediately flood the exposed area with water and clean any wound with soap and water or a skin disinfectant if available.
  2. Report this immediately to your employer.
  3. Seek immediate medical attention.

Follow this link for OSHA bloodborne pathogens training videos.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Needlestick Safety

State legislative efforts to improve health care worker safety related to needlesticks began in 1998 in California. Twenty-one other states have enacted some type of legislation related to health care worker bloodborne pathogen exposures. These state laws typically require that state agencies, such as the department of health or labor, develop a set of administrative regulations to implement the laws.

These state laws are aimed at adding additional safeguards for health care workers at the state level. This includes adding provisions not in the federal OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen standard and/or coverage of public employees not regulated by OSHA.

Each of these state laws varies in terms of its coverage and scope. Common provisions include requirements for:

  1. listing of safety devices as engineering controls;
  2. development of a list of available safety devices by the state for use by employers;
  3. development of a written exposure plan by employers and periodic review and updates;
  4. development of protocols for safety device identification and selection by employers and involvement by frontline workers in the process;
  5. development of a sharps injury log and reporting log information;
  6. development of methods to increase use of vaccines and personal protective equipment;
  7. waivers or exemptions from safety device use under certain circumstances (including patient and/or worker safety issues, use of alternative effective strategies, market unavailability, etc.);
  8. placement of sharps containers in accessible positions, and
  9. training for workers regarding safety device use.

Many of the state laws contain more unique requirements such as surveillance programs, cost-benefit analysis, strict requirements for safety device use and the use of statewide advisory boards. These unique features are noted in the state-by-state section. Each state law differs as to the time frame for development of its related regulations and the date the laws and regulations become effective.

State-by-State Provisions (In Chronological Order)

Select a state for specific details:

Alaska - Arkansas - California - Connecticut - Georgia - Iowa - Maine - Maryland - Massachusetts - Minnesota - Missouri - New Hampshire - New Jersey - New York - Ohio - Oklahoma - Pennsylvania - Rhode Island - Tennessee - Texas - West Virginia

Monday, January 26, 2009

What are Bloodborne Pathogens?

If you are searching the internet for "bloodborne pathogens" you may already know and understand what they are. However, many people may not.

A bloodborne pathogen is a disease producing bacteria or microorganism. OSHA defines a bloodborne pathogen as a pathogenic microorganism present in human blood that can lead to disease. There are many disease carrying pathogenic microorganisms that are covered by OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030); however, the most common and those of primary concern are Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B (HBV), and Hepatitis C (HCV).

I will give a brief description of each.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV):

  • HIV is the virus that leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). A person can carry HIV for many years and not have symptoms until it turns into full-blown AIDS.
  • AIDS attacks the person’s immune system, which makes it difficult for the body to fight off disease.
  • Scientists and medical authorities agree that HIV does not survive well outside the body. Drying of HIV-infected human blood or other body fluids reduces the risk of environmental transmission to essentially zero.
  • HIV is found in very low quantities in saliva and tears from some AIDS patients. HIV has not been found in the sweat of HIV-infected persons. Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in the transmission of HIV.

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV):

  • 1 to 1 ¼ million Americans are chronically infected
  • Symptoms include: jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, intermittent nausea, vomiting
  • May lead to chronic liver disease, liver cancer, and death
  • Vaccination available since 1982
  • HBV can survive for at least one week in
    dried blood

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV):

  • An estimated 3.9 million Americans have been infected with HCV of whom 2.7 million are chronically infected.
  • Persons chronically infected with HCV may not be aware of it because they are not clinically ill. Sometimes it can take two decades before symptoms are recognized.
  • Chronic liver disease occurs in approximately 70 percent of infected persons.
  • There are some drugs that have been licensed for treatment of HCV; however, they are only effective in 10-40 percent of persons.
  • 8,000-10,000 deaths occur each year as a result of the chronic liver disease.
  • There are some drugs that have been licensed for treatment of HCV; however, they are only effective in 10-40 percent of persons.
For more information about OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens we recommend you visit the following link: Bloodborne Pathogens Safety Training