TELL — Report the incident immediately to your supervisor or human resources department. Ask for a dated copy of the report (even if it is only handwritten).
EMPLOYERS' RESPONSIBILITIES Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees from exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Here are the specifics of this responsibility.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT — Any employee at risk of being exposed to bloodborne pathogens must be provided with the protective equipment necessary to keep them safe from exposure. This equipment includes gloves, goggles and, if required, breathing masks or barriers for CPR.
EDUCATION — Not all professions require bloodborne pathogen education and prevention training. A call to OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) may or may not give you the answer you are looking for. It appears as though OSHA looks at a number of factors when determining whether an employer does or does not have to comply. For example, if you offer voluntary CPR/first aid training to your employees, they may not be required to take bloodborne pathogen training. If you have designated first aid responders within your organization, you probably fall under the training requirements. Many of you know your employees’ occupational exposure risk. If you have personnel who are routinely or even occasionally exposed to blood or body fluids in the execution of their duties, you may want to consider offering protective equipment and training to these employees.
ENGINEERING CONTROLS — Engineering controls help to protect employees from bloodborne pathogen contamination and prevent the spread of pathogens in the workplace. Here’s an example of engineering controls: An employee using his leather work gloves realizes he has come in contact with body fluids and the gloves are contaminated. Two controls should be in place to protect the employee. First, knowing his exposure risk, the employer should have a spare set of gloves on hand so that the operator can complete his job. Second, the company should have a procedure for disposing of or cleaning the soiled gloves.
In our next blog post, we'll detail work practices, written policies and the training necessary to protect employees from blood pathogens.
John Schmidt owns Safety Outsourcing. He offers courses in CPR, first aid, AED (automated external defibrillator) and highway safety training and the American Heart Association’s course in bloodborne pathogen training throughout central and southeastern Pennsylvania. For more information on Safety Outsourcing, visit www.safetyoutsourcing.net.