Friday, May 30, 2014

Housekeepers, maintenance workers and janitors

Q6. We have employees who are designated to render first aid. Are they covered by the standard?

A6. Yes. If employees are trained and designated as responsible for rendering first aid  as part of their job duties, they are covered by the protections of the standard. However, OSHA will consider it a de minimis violation - a technical violation carrying no penalties - if employees, who administer first aid as a collateral duty to their routine work assignments, are not offered the pre-exposure hepatitis B vaccination, provided that a number of conditions are met. In these circumstances, no citations will be issued.
The de minimis classification for failure to offer hepatitis B vaccination in advance of exposure does not apply to personnel who provide first aid at a first-aid station, clinic, or dispensary, or to the healthcare, emergency response or public safety personnel expected to render first aid in the course of their work. The de minimis classification is limited to persons who render first aid only as a collateral duty, responding solely to injuries resulting from workplace incidents, generally at the location where the incident occurred. To merit the de minimis classification, the following conditions also must be met:
  • Reporting procedures must be in place under the exposure control plan to ensure that all first-aid incidents involving the presence of blood or OPIM are reported to the employer before the end of the work shift during which the incident occurs.
  • Reports of first-aid incidents must include the names of all first-aid providers who rendered assistance and a description of the circumstances of the accident, including date and time, as well as a determination of whether an exposure incident, as defined in the standard, has occurred.
  • A report that lists all such first-aid incidents must be readily available to all employees and provided to OSHA upon request.
  • First-aid providers must receive training under the Bloodborne Pathogens standard that covers the specifics of the reporting procedures.
  • All first-aid providers who render assistance in any situation involving the presence of blood or other potentially infectious materials, regardless of whether or not a specific exposure occurs, must have the vaccine made available to them as soon as possible but in no event later than 24 hours after the exposure incident. If an exposure incident as defined in the standard has taken place, other post-exposure follow-up procedures must be initiated immediately, as per the requirements of the standard.

Q7. Are employees such as housekeepers, maintenance workers and janitors covered by the standard?

A7. Housekeeping workers in healthcare facilities may have occupational exposure, as defined by the standard. Individuals who perform housekeeping duties, particularly in patient care and laboratory areas, may perform tasks, such as cleaning blood spills and handling regulated wastes, which cause occupational exposure.
While OSHA does not generally consider all maintenance personnel and janitorial staff employed in non-healthcare facilities to have occupational exposure, it is the employer's responsibility to determine which job classifications or specific tasks and procedures involve occupational exposure. For example, OSHA expects products such as discarded sanitary napkins to be discarded into waste containers which are lined in such a way as to prevent contact with the contents. At the same time, the employer must determine if employees can come into contact with blood during the normal handling of such products from initial pick-up through disposal in the outgoing trash. If OSHA determines, on a case-by-case basis, that sufficient evidence of reasonably anticipated exposure exists, the employer will be held responsible for providing the protections of 29 CFR 1910.1030 to the employees with occupational exposure.

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