The purpose of this blog post is to provide answers to some of the more commonly asked questions related to the Bloodborne Pathogens standard. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for the standard's requirements. Please refer to the standard for the complete text.
Methods of Control
Q1. Can employees of an ambulance medical rescue service eat or drink inside the cab of the unit?
A1. Employees are allowed to eat and drink in an ambulance cab only if the employer has implemented procedures to permit employees to wash up and change contaminated clothing before entering the ambulance cab, has prohibited the consumption, handling, storage, and transport of food and drink in the rear of the vehicle, and has procedures to ensure that patients and contaminated materials remain behind the separating partition.
Q2. What alternatives are acceptable if soap and running water are not available for handwashing?
A2. Antiseptic hand cleansers in conjunction with clean cloth/paper towels or antiseptic towelettes are examples of acceptable alternatives to running water. However, when these types of alternatives are used, employees must wash their hands with soap and running water as soon as feasible. These alternatives are only acceptable at worksites where it is infeasible to provide soap and running water.
Q3. What are the labeling exemptions for specimens?
A3. The labeling exemption in section (d)(2)(xiii)(A) of the standard applies to facilities that handle all specimens with Universal Precautions provided the containers are recognizable as containing specimens. This exemption applies only while these specimens remain within the facility. Also, all employees who will have contact with the specimens must be trained to handle all specimens with Universal Precautions. If the specimens leave the facility (e.g., during transport, shipment, or disposal), a label or red color-coding is required.
Q4. Do specimens have to be double-bagged?
A4. Secondary containers or bags are only required if the primary container is contaminated on the outside. Also, if the specimen could puncture the primary container, a secondary puncture-resistant container is required. All specimen containers, primary and secondary, must be closed, properly labeled or color-coded (except as described above) and must prevent leakage.
Q5. Are employers required to decontaminate equipment before servicing or shipping?
A26. The standard requires that all equipment that may be contaminated must be examined and decontaminated as necessary before servicing or shipping. If complete decontamination is not feasible, the equipment must be labeled with the required biohazard label which also specifically identifies which portions of the equipment remain contaminated. In addition, the employer must ensure that this information is conveyed to the affected employees, the servicing representative, and/or the manufacturer, as appropriate, before handling, servicing, or shipping.
Personal Protective Equipment
Q1. What type of personal protective equipment (PPE) must employees in a dental office wear?
A1. The standard requires that PPE be "appropriate." PPE will be considered "appropriate" only if it does not permit blood or OPIM to pass through to, or reach, the skin, employees' underlying garments, eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes under normal conditions of use and for the duration of time that the PPE will be used. This allows the employer to select PPE based on the type of exposure and the quantity of blood or OPIM which can be reasonably anticipated to be encountered during performance of a task or procedure.
Q2. Who is responsible for providing PPE?
A2. The responsibility for providing, laundering, cleaning, repairing, replacing, and disposing of PPE at no cost to employees rests with the employer. Employers are not obligated under the standard to provide general work clothes to employees, but they are responsible for providing PPE. If laboratory jackets or uniforms are intended to protect the employee's body or clothing from contamination, they are to be provided at no cost by the employer.
Q3. Does protective clothing need to be removed before leaving the work area?
A3. Yes. OSHA requires that personal protective equipment be removed before leaving the work area. While "work area" must be determined on a case-by-case basis, a work area is generally considered to be an area where work involving occupational exposure occurs or where the contamination of surfaces may occur.
Q4. What type of eye protection do I need to wear when working with blood or OPIM?
A4. The use of eye protection would be based on the reasonable anticipation of facial exposure. Masks in combination with eye protection devices, such as glasses with solid side shields, goggles, or chin-length face shields, shall be worn whenever splashes, spray, spatter, or droplets of blood or OPIM may be generated and eye, nose, or mouth contamination can be reasonably anticipated.
Are you concerned that your facility does not have a kit designed for OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard? This kit is designed to help in OSHA Standard Compliance (1910.1030) and combines personal protection and clean-up items mandated by OSHA, CDC, and State Health Departments to aid in the clean-up, transportation, and disposal of potentially infectious blood or body fluid spills.
The information contained is this document is not considered a substitute for any provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) or the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1030, Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens.