Safety

Tip of the week: Complying with OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard

Hospital Safety Insider, December 29, 2011

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OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard took effect in March 1992 and was designed to protect healthcare workers from contracting dangerous bloodborne illnesses from the patients they cared for. In November 2000, another landmark bill was added to the standard in the form of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, which ­required facilities to develop an exposure control plan and evaluate safety sharps as part of their bloodborne pathogens program.

Consider the following ways to improve your facility's compliance:

  • Update your OSHA manual. Policies and ­procedures are the backbone of compliance and should be ­updated as needed, particularly the exposure control plan, says Kathy Rooker, safety officer and owner of Columbus Healthcare & Safety Consultants in ­Canal Winchester, OH. "A lot of the doctors think they can handle it, and they think that's by just putting the manual on the shelf," Rooker says. "I tell them if I can blow dust off of it, we've got a problem."
  • Find the root cause of injuries. Sharps injuries are not always caused by noncompliance, Davidson says. Perhaps the culprit is a new safety device that requires more training for staff members, or a resident who has less experience with safety needles.
  • Establish a safety zone. One way to reduce sharps ­injuries in the surgical suite is to establish a safety zone in which surgeons place scalpels on a tray instead of handing them off, Davidson says. Then the ­surgical tech is able to handle the tray, rather than the instrument.

Find more tips at the Hospital Safety Center.



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