The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) came into being in 1970 with a view to helping employers and their employees reduce workplace accidents, deaths and illnesses. The good news is that since OSHA was enacted, there has been a 60% reduction in workplace illnesses and injuries. The act has consequently reduced workmen’s compensation costs as it led to low insurance premium payments. With regard to bloodborne pathogens training also, which may be carried out through voluntary programs, OSHA has set some guidelines for all companies and makes sure that they are followed. These are below:
- OSHA specifies that any employee who runs the risk of being exposed to bloodborne pathogens be compulsorily trained when he is hired and the cost for which should be borne by the employer. The training should be conducted during working hours and repeat training must be done least once every year. If the employee’s duties change, retraining is compulsory.
- Specific rules regarding qualifications of trainers and the training content are also clearly mentioned in OSHA. For more information concerning OSHA’s standards for training, check out this letter of clarification
- Trainers should be exposed to infection-control programs and may include qualified nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) and properly trained physician assistants only. This may, however, also include clerical workers who have been specifically trained to impart training to others.
- OSHA also has provisions for hygienists, epidemiologists and trainers on body conditioning to become instructors, provided they have sufficient knowledge of bloodborne pathogens.
- The bloodborne pathogens training should contain necessary information on exposure, exposure control planning, pathogen transmission and exposure prevention. The instructions should also include information on work practices limitations and how to remove, handle and dispose of fluids infected with pathogens.
- OSHA particularly stresses on the vaccine for hepatitis B and stipulates its training include the vaccine’s safety reasons, availability and administering methods. It also states that immunizations have to be a part of training an employee against contamination in future.
For more components of a bloodborne pathogens program, check out what the EHS Center offers members here.
- The rules laid down by OSHA also direct trainers to communicate with those undergoing bloodborne pathogens training on procedures regarding reporting an incident involving exposure, immediately and effectively. The stress is more on emergency training before a spill or contamination occur.
- OSHA rules specify what colors and labels should be used to code contaminated fluids and their containers so that it is understood by all dealing in bloodborne pathogens. Rules for waste disposal are also clearly mentioned.
- The procedure normally followed by OSHA is that there should be an immediate reporting of the incident to the concerned or designated person authorized to receive the report. A physician must be consulted to test and subsequently treat any sort of exposure. Thirdly, training should be conducted on proper vaccination and medication and should be administered immediately should a bloodborne pathogens emergency happen.
- There are specific rules laid down by OSHA for bloodborne pathogens training on handling HBV and HIV specimens where use of protective gear, reporting issues and waste disposal and cleaning are specifically and clearly mentioned.