OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard: analysis and recommendations.Health Devices. 1993 Feb; 22(2):35-92.HD
Just over a year ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the final bloodborne pathogens standard, "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens; Final Rule," which requires healthcare institutions to protect their employees from all occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens." According to OSHA, the only criterion for applying the standard is the likelihood of exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIMs). Thus, the standard is designed to protect all vulnerable personnel, from the clinical engineers who service contaminated equipment to the staff in clinical laboratories, patient care or treatment areas, and housekeeping and laundry services--any location where the nature of the work poses the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. All department heads and employees must have access to the standard and should carefully review our analysis of the regulations and recommendations for implementing them, as presented in this special issue of Health Devices. The standard is aimed at protecting employees from occupational exposure to all bloodborne pathogens and, especially, to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the hepatitis B virus (HBV)--the most infamous pathogens transmitted through occupational exposure to blood and body fluids. Other bloodborne diseases referenced by OSHA in the preamble to the standard include arboviral infections, babesiosis, brucellosis, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, hepatitis C, human T-lymphotropic virus type I, leptospirosis, malaria, relapsing fever, syphilis, and viral hemorrhagic fever. In this issue, we provide a clinical overview of HIV and HBV and the diseases they cause, as well as a brief discussion of other bloodborne pathogens; an analysis of the most significant regulations affecting hospitals; and our recommendations for compliance. The recommendations presented in this article do not exhaust the possibilities for reducing exposure and complying with the standard. We invite you to communicate your ideas and practices regarding compliance issues to the ECRI-sponsored Center for Healthcare Environmental Management (CHEM) for possible inclusion in a future update to its loose-leaf reference publication, the Healthcare Environmental Management System. We wish to acknowledge CHEM's contribution in developing this special report, which was reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and OSHA. Also see "CDC's Recommendations for Hepatitis B Vaccination and Postexposure Follow-up" and "A Minimal Training Syllabus" in this issue.