In medical settings, exposure to blood and any potential bloodborne pathogens is very common. Here are some tips for meeting the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard.
What is the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard?
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 5.6 million workers in the healthcare industry and related occupations are at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and others. OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard is a regulation that prescribes safeguards to protect workers against these health hazards.
It requires employers of workers who may be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials, such as certain tissues and body fluids, to take actions that include:
- establishing and implementing exposure control plans
- engineering and work practice controls
- hepatitis B vaccinations
- hazard communication
- OSHA training
What is the Most Common Threat to Employees From Bloodborne Pathogens?
According to the American Medical Association, as many as 800,000 healthcare employees receive accidental needle sticks annually, and most go unreported. Studies show that as many as one-third of all sharps injuries occur during disposal, with nurses being the most likely to sustain needlestick injuries.
The CDC estimates suggest that 62 to 88 percent of sharps injuries can be prevented simply by using safer medical devices.
Employers must keep a Sharps Injury Log to record percutaneous injuries from contaminated sharps; that information should help guide decision-making in choosing the safest options to prevent future sharps injuries.