The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act was passed in 2000 in order to help protect workers who were at risk of developing diseases due to the exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other bodily fluids.
Incorporating this new law into their Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set guidelines that all companies are forced to follow.
To provide a better overview of what these standards entail, this article covers what bloodborne pathogens are, what the standards are, and who is expected to follow them.
What Are Bloodborne Pathogens?
Bloodborne pathogens are harmful viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms found in the human blood or other bodily fluids. These dangerous materials can cause severe illness for those who are exposed to them.
These diseases include but are not limited to:
- Hepatitis B and C
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
What Job Fields Fall Under the Bloodborne Pathogens Standards
Health care professionals and biohazard remediation specialists are two of the most well-known groups to fall under these standards. This is due to the fact that they come across bodily fluids on a daily basis, making their risk of contracting a disease higher.
Others who are included are as follows:
- Those who have direct contact with a patient/resident
- Those who draw blood
- Those who work with blood or other bodily fluids
- Those who handle contaminated equipment
OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standards
Companies and employees who work closely among dangerous bodily fluids and blood are expected to follow these standards or else they risk the chance of disease, termination from their job, hefty fines, and jail time.
These standards are as follows:
All companies must have a written Exposure Control Plan (ECP). This plan is designed to minimize the risk of employee exposure. All employees should receive appropriate and thorough training to be able to comprehend and execute the ECP. This training is required to be free of charge and given to the employee during work hours.
Use of Standard Precautions. Standard precautions require that employees treat blood and other bodily fluids as if they do contain harmful materials, such as the Hepatitis B virus. This is true even if the patient under question is considered “lower risk” for having any diseases.
Use Personal Protective Equipment. This equipment should be used whenever there is even a slight risk of coming into contact with blood or bodily fluids.
Wash Hands. This includes before and after coming into contact with a patient, blood, or bodily fluid. Hands should be washed thoroughly to eliminate the risk of passing diseases from bloodborne pathogens.
Use of needle safe devices. This is to reduce the risk of sharps exposure. This includes having proper disposal bins.
Use of safety containers. to move and dispose of hazardous materials. This includes properly labeling containers under infectious waste or with biohazard materials to ensure that the container is properly handled.
Post-Exposure Evaluation. This is to address the issue if an employee was in direct contact with blood or bodily fluids so that they can get proper treatment.
Hepatitis B Vaccination. This vaccination should be made available to all employees to stop the spread of the disease.
Eating, drinking and applying cosmetics is forbidden when exposed to bloodborne pathogens and bodily fluid. Doing so increases the risk that someone can become contaminated or exposed to hazardous bacteria.
Steps to Take if You Were Exposed to Infectious Materials
Any exposure to blood or bodily fluids can put you at risk of developing diseases from harmful bacteria and viruses.
If you have come into contact with infectious material, you need to take these steps immediately:
- Wash cuts or pricks with soap and water
- Wash thoroughly any splashes to the nose, mouth, or skin with water
- Flush out eyes with clean water or saline
- Report the exposure to your instructor or supervisor
- Seek medical attention and evaluation immediately
If you need biohazard remediation after the loss of a loved one or from a horrific accident, make sure you contact the specialists at Red Responders.
Our employees have been thoroughly trained under OSHA regulations and provide discreet and safe cleanup. Call us today for more information on our services.