OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standards: A school’s responsibility for compliance
When you have large numbers of children in a school setting the potential exists for cuts, and scrapes and illnesses that expose employees to bodily fluids that can possibly cause illness.
What are bloodborne pathogens and why did OSHA create a formal standard to deal with the hazards? Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms such as viruses or bacteria that are carried in blood and can cause disease in people. Among the bloodborne pathogens are malaria, syphilis, and Brucellosis, but Hepatitis B (HBV) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are the two diseases specifically addressed by the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. In response to the growing concern over HIV/AIDS in 1991 OSHA created the bloodborne pathogens standard. The standard, if adhered to correctly, provides for reasonable protection against illnesses including Hepatitis B & C, AIDS and other bloodborne illnesses.
What is OSHA’s bloodborne pathogen standard?
OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard 29 CFR Part 1910.1030, addresses the blood hazards in the workplace. This standard covers all employees who it can "reasonably be anticipated" to have contact with blood and other potentially infectious materials. Schoolteachers, administrators, athletic coaches, cafeteria workers and janitorial staff fall under this category and are therefore covered under the Bloodborne pathogens standard.
“Universal precautions” is short-hand for an approach to infection control that requires people to treat all human blood and certain human body fluids as if they were infected with HIV, HBV and other bloodborne pathogens, The Standard says employees must follow universal precautions to prevent contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials.Some common and effective universal precautions are:
Engineering controls include containers with hazard labels, antibacterial soaps or chemicals and places to wash after an exposure including an eye wash station. Schools are likely limited to soaps and disposal containers.
Administrative controls include workplace rules such as procedures to clean up broken glass that may have blood or other body fluid on it. For higher hazard businesses administrative controls would include rules on working with needles etc.
Rules to follow:
Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in exposure situations.
Hands should be washed immediately (or as soon as feasible) after removal of gloves or other PPE. Because hand washing is so important, you should note the location of the hand washing facilities (with soap) nearest to you. If you are working in an area without access to such facilities, you may use an antiseptic cleanser in conjunction with clean cloth/paper towels or antiseptic wipes. If these alternative methods are used, wash hands with soap and running water as soon as possible.
If you are cleaning up blood that has spilled or splattered, you should carefully cover the spill with paper towels or rags, then gently pour the 10% solution of bleach over the towels or rags, and leave it for at least 10 minutes. This will help ensure that any bloodborne pathogens are killed before you actually begin cleaning or wiping the material up. By covering the spill with paper towels or rags, you decrease the chances of splashing when you pour the bleach on it.
Broken glassware should never be picked up directly with the hands. Sweep or brush the material into a dustpan. Uncontaminated broken glassware may be disposed of in a closable, puncture resistant container such as a cardboard box or coffee can.
If you are exposed, however, you should:
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.