Thursday, September 26, 2013

Quick Reference Guide

  1. What is the Bloodborne Pathogens standard?

    OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) as amended pursuant to the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000, prescribes safeguards to protect workers against the health hazards caused by bloodborne pathogens. Its requirements address items such as exposure control plans, universal precautions, engineering and work practice controls, personal protective equipment, housekeeping, laboratories, hepatitis B vaccination, post-exposure follow-up, hazard communication and training, and recordkeeping. The standard places requirements on employers whose workers can be reasonably anticipated to contact blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), such as unfixed human tissues and certain body fluids.

  2. What is the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act?

    The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (the Act) (Pub. L. 106-430) was signed into law on November 6, 2000. Because occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens from accidental sharps injuries in healthcare and other occupational settings continues to be a serious problem, Congress required modification of OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) to set forth in greater detail (and make more specific) OSHA's requirement for employers to identify, evaluate and implement safer medical devices such as needleless systems and sharps with engineered sharps protections. The Act also mandated additional requirements for maintaining a sharps injury log and for the involvement of non-managerial healthcare workers in identifying, evaluating and choosing effective engineering and work practice controls. These are workers who are responsible for direct patient care and be potentially exposed to injuries from contaminated sharps.

  3. How does the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act apply to OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard?

    The Act directed OSHA to revise its Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030). OSHA published the revised standard in the Federal Register on January 18, 2001; it took effect on April 18, 2001. The requirement to implement the use of engineering controls, which includes safer medical devices, has been in effect since 1992.

  4. How does the standard affect states that operate their own federally-approved occupational safety and health programs?

    States and territories that operate their own OSHA-approved state programs are required to adopt a Bloodborne Pathogens standard that is at least as effective as the Federal OSHA standard.

  5. Does the standard apply to public sector (state and local government) employees?

    The 25 states and two territories that operate OSHA-approved state plans are required to enforce an "at least as effective" standard in the public sector. In the remaining states where Federal OSHA has jurisdiction, hospitals in the public sector are required to comply with the Bloodborne Pathogens standard with enforcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (42 U.S.C. 1395cc(a)(1)(V) and (b)(4)).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Biohazard labeling - red container, not biohazard label?

December 15, 1992
Ms. Elaine T***
Ciba-Corning Diagnostics Limited
Sudbury, England CO10 6XD

Dear Ms. T***,

This is in response to your letter of September 22 and to provide you with written confirmation of phone conversations you have had with a member of my staff. You requested an interpretation of the acceptability of your company's biohazard label under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030, the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. We apologize for the delay in this written response.

The bloodborne pathogens standard requires that the biohazard label be affixed to containers of regulated waste and other containers used to store, transport, or ship blood or other potentially infectious materials; a red container may be substituted for the biohazard label. The design and coloring of the warning label which you submitted appears to be consistent with the requirements of 1910.1030(g)(1)(i)(B) and (C) which require that the biohazard symbol and legend be in a contrasting color to a fluorescent orange or orange-red background.

We hope this information is responsive to your concerns and thank you for your interest in worker safety and health.


Roger A. Clark,
Directorate of Compliance Programs

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Applicability for companion-sitters in private homes

April 17, 1997

Patricia O****

Dear Ms. O***:

Thank you for your letter of February 13, concerning the applicability of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030, for employees who work as companion-sitters in private homes was discussed in detail during a telephonic conversation with a member of my staff, Wanda Bissell, on April 2. This letter will serve to highlight that discussion and reiterate the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) policies on providing the Hepatitis B vaccine.

The companion-sitter occupation is described by you as a "non-health care" service. You provided a list of tasks that employees perform when working as a companion-sitter, personal care attendant and homemaker for the elderly, ill, or disabled persons, such as bathing, feeding, cooking, assisting with walking, light housekeeping, running errands, and providing transportation. You have stated that these workers do not change bandages, nor do they give intravenous injections; however, there may be contact with blood when the employee handles bloody stool or urine or inserts suppositories. The description of a routine day seems to rarely include contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). However, as part of their collateral duties, these employees are expected to provide first aid.

OSHA policy states that designated first aiders are covered under the scope of the standard, however, failure to provide the Hepatitis B vaccine pre-exposure to persons who render first aid only as a collateral duty will be considered a de minimis violation carrying no penalty, provided certain conditions are met. These conditions include the requirement that employers institute a reporting procedure for all first aid incidents involving the presence of blood or OPIM and offer the vaccine to any employee who has rendered first aid in such an incident regardless of the occurrence of an actual "exposure incident" as defined by the standard. All other requirements of the Bloodborne Pathogens standard continue to apply to designated first aiders. This policy does not apply to employees who render medical assistance or emergency response activities on a regular basis.