Friday, May 23, 2014

Bloodborne Pathgoens FAQs: Part 2

Q1. Who is covered by the standard?

A1. The standard applies to all employees who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).
  • Occupational exposure is defined as reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee's duties.
  • Blood is defined as human blood, human blood components, and products made from human blood.
  • Other potentially infectious materials is defined as the following: saliva in dental procedures; semen; vaginal secretions; cerebrospinal, synovial, pleural, pericardial, peritoneal, and amniotic fluids; body fluids visibly contaminated with blood; along with all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids; unfixed human tissues or organs (other than intact skin); HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV- or HBV-containing culture media or other solutions; and blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV.

Q2. Does the Bloodborne Pathogens standard apply to employees in the agriculture, maritime and construction industries?

A2. The standard does not apply to agriculture or construction. The standard applies to ship repairing, shipbuilding and shipbreaking and on commercial fishing vessels and other vessels where OSHA has jurisdiction, but not in longshoring and marine terminals. However, the General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act) will be used, where appropriate, to protect employees from bloodborne hazards in construction, longshoring, marine terminals and agriculture.

Q3. Are volunteers and students covered by the standard?

A3. Volunteers are not covered by the standard. Students are covered if they are compensated.

Q4. Are physicians who are not employees of the hospital in which they work covered by the standard?

A4. Physicians employed by professional corporations are considered employees of that corporation. The corporation which employs these physicians may be cited by OSHA for violations affecting those physicians. The hospital where the physician practices may also be held responsible as the employer who created or controlled the hazard. Physicians who are sole practitioners or partners are not considered employees under the OSH Act; therefore, they are not covered by the protections of the standard. However, if a physician not employed by a hospital were to create a hazard to which hospital employees were exposed, it would be consistent with current OSHA policy to cite the hospital, the employer of the exposed employees, for failure to provide the protections of the Bloodborne Pathogens standard.

Q5. My company supplies contract employees to healthcare facilities. What are my responsibilities under the Bloodborne Pathogens standard?

A5. OSHA considers personnel providers, who send their own employees to work at other facilities, to be employers whose employees may be exposed to hazards. Because your company maintains a continuing relationship with its employees, but another employer (your client) creates and controls the hazard, there is a shared responsibility for assuring that your employees are protected from workplace hazards. The client employer has the primary responsibility for such protection, but the "lessor employer" likewise has a responsibility under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. In the context of OSHA's standard on Bloodborne Pathogens, 29 CFR 1910.1030, your company would be required, for example, to provide the general training outlined in the standard; ensure that employees are provided with the required vaccinations; and provide proper follow-up evaluations following an exposure incident. Your clients would be responsible, for example, for providing site-specific training and personal protective equipment, and would have the primary responsibility regarding the control of potential exposure conditions. The client, of course, may specify what qualifications are required for supplied personnel, including vaccination status. It is certainly in the interest of the lessor employer to ensure that all steps required under the standard have been taken by the client employer to ensure a safe and healthful workplace for the leased employees. Toward that end, your contracts with your clients should clearly describe the responsibilities of both parties in order to ensure that all requirements of the standard are met.

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