OSHA Issues New Compliance Directive for Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

It's not written in blood, but OSHA issued a new compliance directive for enforcing the bloodborne pathogens standard.

It's not written in blood, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new compliance directive for enforcing the bloodborne pathogens standard that was revised in January and employers would be wise to learn what the directive contains. The standard became effective on April 18.

The compliance directive guides OSHA's safety and health inspection officers in enforcing the standard that covers occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials, and ensures consistent inspection procedures are followed. It updates an earlier directive issued in 1999 and incorporates changes mandated by the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act passed in November 2000.

The directive implements changes made to the standard that focus on the requirement that employers select safer needle devices as they become available and involve employees in identifying and choosing those devices. The standard now also requires most employers to maintain a log of injuries from contaminated sharps.

The directive highlights the major new requirements of the standard including:

  • Evaluation and implementation of safer needle devices as part of the re-evaluation of appropriate engineering controls during an employer's annual exposure control plan;
  • Documentation of the involvement of non-managerial, frontline employees in choosing safer devices; and
  • Establishment and maintenance of a sharps injury log for recording injuries from contaminated sharps.

The compliance directive reminds compliance officers that there is no single safer medical device that is appropriate for all situations. Employers must consider and implement devices that are appropriate, commercially available and effective. The directive also includes detailed instructions on inspections of multi-employer worksites, including employment agencies, personnel services, home health services, physicians and healthcare professionals in independent practices, and independent contractors.

The directive also include engineering control evaluation forms, a Web site resource list, a model exposure control plan which incorporates the most current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding management of occupational exposure to the hepatitis B and C viruses, and the HIV virus.

The directive can be accessed from the OSHA Web site at www.osha-slc.gov/OshDoc/Directive_data/CPL_2-2_69.html.

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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