The number of workers that might be exposed to bloodborne pathogens is astounding. Healthcare workers in emergency rooms, surgery, dialysis units, and labor and delivery are most likely to encounter bloodborne pathogens (BBPs). They often have to do invasive procedures and they deal with high volumes of blood.
Employees in other occupations can also become exposed to BBPs. First responders, waste management workers, and housekeeping staff in certain industries are also at risk. They’ve probably heard of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published the standard back in 1991 due to the health risks associated with bloodborne pathogens. It laid down regulations to protect workers from BBPs. It also required employers to institute bloodborne pathogens training for their workforce.
It can be challenging to navigate the maze that is the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard though. You can easily drown in its numerous terms, mandates, and prohibitions. Here are the basic steps to compliance you should keep in mind:
8 Steps to Ensure Your Company Follows Bloodborne Pathogen Standards
Follow Standard Precautions
Standard Precaution refers to the precautions introduced by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to stop the transmission of bloodborne pathogens when giving first aid or health care.
The OSHA has laid down specific instructions that companies and employees should follow at all times. These are:
● Education: Companies must ensure their workforce receive the proper education. Employees should undergo bloodborne pathogens training during onboarding and at least once every year.
● Hand Washing: Employees should wash their hands frequently and properly. Every office should have several, accessible wash areas.
● Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Employers should provide every worker with the right PPE. A protective barrier should always be worn to prevent contact with blood and body fluids.
● Clean Contaminated Surfaces: Employees should also learn how to properly clean and disinfected work areas. All the equipment used should also be decontaminated.
● Proper Disposal of Contaminated Materials: Workers must learn the special precautions required when disposing of biological waste.
Incorporate Regulations in the Construction
Establishing a business in the healthcare industry will go easier if you plan with OSHA’s standard precautions in mind; you could even Read more on Lancaster safety about how they can go about helping you develop a safety program for your workplace. Business owners should incorporate OSHA’s protocols and prohibitions in their company policies and office design. For example, your office might need a sealed area if you have workers who will be handling or disposing of medical waste.
Always Have the Right Equipment on Hand
Standard Precautions require companies to provide the best protective gear and equipment for their employees. Most companies offering medical services or products must always have latex gloves, masks, face shields, scrubs, and gowns on hand. Warning labels, sturdy trash bags, airproof containers, and the like are also needed.
Employees should have ready access to PPE. They also shouldn’t be paying for them.
Documentation Must Be Detailed
Companies should also use and maintain several logs. OSHA requires documentation on various incidents, like the vaccination status of their employees and the training they’ve undergone. Logs on sharps injuries, number of PPE used, amount of collected medical waste, etc. should also be maintained.
Use Sharps Properly
Puncture injuries caused by needles and other sharp objects are a known danger in healthcare as these can transmit bloodborne pathogens. Healthcare organizations and health-oriented businesses should design and implement protocols regarding sharps. Workers should know the right way of handling, isolating, and disposing of sharps.
Develop an Exposure Plan
Medical-based businesses are required to have an Exposure Control Plan. It should determine the exposure risks of employees and how to manage them. The plan should include protocols on BBP exposure and post-exposure. Update or revise the Exposure Plan at least once a year and conduct refresher training after every change.
Train Employees Properly and Regularly
Every worker must have adequate bloodborne pathogens training. It’s essential for compliance. New employees must also be certified before starting work. The company’s entire workforce should also participate in refresher courses at least once a year.
Employers should also post visual aids and reminders about company protocols around the workplace.
Bring in an Expert
Businesses should also consider hiring a compliance expert to help meet the standards set by OSHA. A compliance specialist can review your office policies and Exposure Plan and refine them.
The threat of bloodborne pathogens is not something to treat lightly. OSHA’s Standard Precautions have sensible policies that every company should follow. Bloodborne pathogens training, an Exposure Plan, and having the right equipment are just some steps a company can take to become compliant and protect their workers.