This federal standard was developed by OSHA to limit the workplace exposure of employees to Hepatitis B AIDS and other bloodborne pathogens. The rule requires that lodging businesses assess the “occupational exposure” of their employees to bloodborne pathogens which are micro-organisms in the human blood. “Occupational Exposure” is defined as “reasonable anticipated skin eye mucous membrane or parenteral contact with blood other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of duties.” One job generally acknowledged to have occupational exposure is housekeeping which might bring employees into contact with needles or blood on sheets.
If exposure exists the employer must design a plan to prevent bloodborne pathogen infection:
- Employers must have a written exposure control plan.
- Employers must implement protective practices designed to decrease the likelihood of exposure (such as wearing gloves).
- Employers must provide the Hepatitis B vaccine. If the risk of exposure is significant OSHA generally seeks to have this vaccine offered prior to any exposure occurring (if employees refuse the vaccine make sure to get this in writing and keep it on file).
- Employers must provide post-exposure follow-up. Data on any incident in which an employee may have been exposed must be kept for 30 years.
- Employers must provide training.
- Employers must maintain records. Training records must be kept for three years. Any employee who is exposed to blood body fluids or needles that is sent to the doctor for evaluation and possible vaccine must have the pertinent medical and incident data held in file for 30 years even after they leave your organization.
Where there is occupational exposure the employer must provide any or all of the following depending on the degree of exposure: gloves gowns face shields or masks and eye protection mouthpiece (especially for CPR) pocket masks or other ventilation devices. The employees must have a nearby handwashing facility for use as soon as feasible after removal of gloves and other personal protective equipment. When contaminated needles are found they are to be placed in appropriate containers and discarded. It is recommended that the local medical facility serving your property be a resource for such containers; as well as red bags with approved BIOHAZARD symbol; and contacts for appropriate removal of medically contaminated waste from the property.
Health compliance of OSHA has agreed on the use of special response teams of specially designated employees to clean up incidents of vomitus containing blood as well as in incidents where there is blood or body fluids in bedding or towels. Under this plan should any such incident occur the special response team would be called into action. All other employees would avoid the potential hazard. The members of the special response team must be offered the Hepatitis B vaccine series. For the complete text of the OSHA rule and more information on bloodborne pathogens visit the OSHA bloodborne pathogens web site.