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.

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