Back To CourseBloodborne Pathogens Training
7 chapters | 47 lessons
Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the United States' primary agency that deals with safety in the workplace and the rights each person has as an employee. Each employment field has unique safety concerns, and OSHA does a pretty comprehensive job making sure all major issues are dealt with, regardless of the industry under consideration.
For example, let's look at the healthcare field. Healthcare professionals are at the front lines of dealing with sick and injured people, but at the same time, this means they are often putting themselves at risk of infection too. Infections occur when pathogens, harmful microorganisms, get into the body. There are a number of ways pathogens can be transmitted from one person to the next, but in this lesson we are explicitly interested in bloodborne pathogens, or those that spread through contact with contaminated blood from someone who has an infection. Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are three bloodborne pathogens that can be spread between people.
To help regulate workplace safety for both healthcare workers and their patients, OSHA implemented the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. This document outlines preventative and response measures for exposure to bloodborne pathogens in the workplace. Though the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard has many parts, we are specifically interested in its record keeping requirements.
Karen was possibly exposed to bloodborne pathogens after she was accidentally stuck with a used needle while working as a nurse. What does this mean for Karen's employer? Well, the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires three types of records to be kept for any employee who is exposed to bloodborne pathogens at work.
The first type is medical records for the affected employee. In this case, after the exposure incident occurred, Karen's employer had to start a medical record documenting her information and what happened. This record is required to be kept confidential and must be stored separately from any of the other files her employer may keep on her. Medical records must include the following information:
These medical records can either be kept on-site with the employer or with the healthcare professional responsible for treatment. The company is required to maintain these records for the duration of Karen's employment, plus an additional 30 years.
The second type of record required is a training record for the affected employee. This record must include:
Training records are also keep confidential and must be maintained for at least 3 years following the training.
The third type of record that must be kept to document Karen's accident is a sharps injuries log. Sharps are any devices that can puncture the skin, like needles, syringes, or lancets. Any exposure incident (like an accidental stick) that involves contaminated sharps must be recorded, along with:
This sharps exposure log must be maintained for at least 5 years following the incident.
As we know, there are set periods of time each type of record must be maintained by the employer or healthcare worker. We also know that these records must be kept confidential and stored separately from other records or files of employees.
If a company goes out of business, they must contact each employee with exposure incidents on file and give them at least 3 months to secure copies of their personal records.
Additionally, though records are kept confidential, they must be made available to the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Health and Safety, and any affected employees upon request. An employee can also designate a representative with written permission.
When the required period for record maintenance is up, the records can be disposed of, but they must meet the disposal requirements also set forth by OSHA. Some employers may be required to send records to NIOSH automatically at the end of the retention period, while others may just be required to provide a written statement to NIOSH of their intention to dispose of records. If a written statement is required, the employer must send the notification at least 3 months prior to disposal.
Let's review. We know that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates how employers can prevent and respond to exposure to bloodborne pathogens in the workplace. These guidelines are explicitly outlined in the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and include rules for record keeping. Specifically, medical records, training records, and a sharps injuries log must be kept for every affected employee. Each have their own required retention period before the records can be disposed of, and all records must include the same information and be kept confidential.
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Back To CourseBloodborne Pathogens Training
7 chapters | 47 lessons