Safety first! Prepare your janitorial staff for accidents with the OSHA blood spill procedure.
Even when you take precautions to avoid them, accidents will happen. If you work in an industry with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), those accidents can be devastating without proper clean-up. Fortunately, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) can help. While there is no official OSHA blood spill procedure, there are some guidelines that can make a big difference in preventing the transmission of infectious diseases on the job.
OSHA offers direction through their Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and the Needlestick Saftey and Prevention Act. In the absence of an actual OSHA blood spill procedure, the precautions listed in the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and the “Needlestick Act” are important steps prior to cleaning up accidents involving blood or any OPIM.
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OSHA blood spill procedure and the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard
The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard outlines in significant detail what types of precautions to take when working near potentially infectious materials. The standard covers exposure control plans, hazard communication and training, and personal protective equipment (PPE). It was issued in 1991 and updated in 2001 with the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, which added more detail to the standard.
The primary goal of the standard is to prevent spills of potentially infectious material, but many of the precautions can apply to numerous situations, including cleanup procedures. “Universal precautions” is a significant part of the standard, which suggests that all bodily fluids be considered potentially infectious. Doing so means that workers would be protected no matter the material, which decreases the likelihood of infection.
Perhaps the most critical requirement regarding universal precautions is that workers wear PPE. This includes rubber gloves in all situations with potentially infectious materials and may include masks, protective gowns, splash shields, and shoe covers. Employers are required to provide PPE whenever workers are near hazardous materials.
Additionally, training on the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard is a requirement for any employee who may handle bodily fluids. Again, the goal is preventing the transmission of any infectious fluids. Learn the risks to minimize them and make sure you take proper precautions to adequately reduce the risk of infection.
Interestingly enough, despite the lack of a specific OSHA blood spill procedure, there are regulations about disposing of potentially infectious materials, which typically come from each state’s Department of Transportation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also offers guidance for handling and disposing of potentially infectious materials. It’s strongly recommended that you review these regulations prior to the disposal or transportation of any potentially infectious materials.
Training your staff
Any business that deals with blood and OPIM is required by federal law to provide training on the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, either internally or through a third party, but it must be done before an employee begins working and during work hours (i.e., you can’t require an employee to come in early or stay late for the training). Many companies offer training online, which can be convenient, however, you still need to provide new employees the opportunity to complete the training during their regular shift hours.
In place of an OSHA blood spill procedure, the standard does require an exposure control plan, which includes some guidance on how to deal with potentially dangerous material accidents. Make sure to include this in your training as it will address most concerns you or your employees might have about blood spill procedures and precautions.
Whatever you decide should be your business’s blood spill procedure, a good rule of thumb is to be overprotective rather than less. This helps to ensure the safety of your employees as well as your business. Detailed procedures may help reduce employee exposure and infection, or they may help you avoid lawsuits in the event of a dispute. No matter your motive, rest assured that a thorough blood spill cleanup procedure is in everyone’s best interest, even if it takes a little while to prepare and present to employees during training.
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