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OSHAlert Blog from Quality America

MSDS for Drug Samples?

Q: Do we need MSDS for the boxes of drug samples we give to patients? A: No, Material Safety Data Sheets are not required for drug samples distributed to patients. Need help with OSHA compliance? Ask Dr. Dunn or browse...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:21 AM

One Drop of Blood

Q: Do cotton balls or bandages with only a drop of blood need to go in the biohazardous waste bag? How about used exam gloves? A: None of these items need to be disposed in a biohazardous waste bag. OSHA's...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:20 AM

Reusing Phlebotomy Barrels

Q: We heard about an OSHA citation for reusing the plastic barrel that holds phlebotomy tubes. This is confusing since we use a sharps container with a built-in needle remover and so does every other medical practice that we know...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:19 AM

Employee Quit Before Hepatitis Vaccinations Finished

Q: Are we responsible to complete the 3-series hepatitis vaccine for an employee who stops working in our office immediately after the second vaccination? A: No you are not. Need help with OSHA compliance? Browse our helpful online store containing...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:17 AM

Annual Testing if TST Positive?

Q: Should employees who have positive PPDs continue to be tested yearly? Do they need to have a chest x-ray every year? A: You do not need to ever repeat the PPD skin test for employees who have tested positive....

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Posted by Claypots at 10:16 AM

Post Vaccination HBV Immunity Testing

Q: How soon after employees complete the HBV series vaccine should they be tested for immunity? Exactly which test should be ordered? A: Perform the HBsAb test one to two months after the last dose of the HBV vaccine. Need...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:15 AM

Hepatitis B Vaccine for Temp Employee

Q: I have a part-time staff member who needs the hepatitis B vaccine (HBV). We want to bill it through her insurance, but she is covered only through her husband's policy. We offered to pay any co-pays/deductibles, but she isn't...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:14 AM

Decontaminating Ultrasound Probes

Q: Our office leaves the ultrasound probe in an open gallon container of glutaraldehyde as they use the probe throughout the day. Are there other options for decontamination of the probe? Can we just wipe it down with alcohol? Any...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:12 AM

Frequency for Autoclave Spore Testing

Q: When we do weekly autoclave spore testing, are we required to run a "control" along with it? A: Run controls according to the spore test package instructions. This usually involves incubating two tests: one spore strip or vial that...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:11 AM

Soaking Contaminated Specula

Q: How should we soak contaminated specula, in an enzyme cleanser or glutaraldehyde? It seems that if an employee has a sharps injury from contaminated specula that have been soaking in enzyme cleaner (rather than glutaraldehyde), they would need to...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:10 AM

Cure for TB?

Q: Can TB be cured? I thought that once you had it in your system, active TB could not be completely cured, only controlled. A: Active TB can be eradicated with adequate long-term therapy. Once a person is infected by...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:09 AM

Who is NIOSH?

Q: What is NIOSH? Do we need to be in compliance with NIOSH regulations? A: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is the division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that publishes worker safety recommendations....

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Posted by Claypots at 10:08 AM

Biopsy Placed in Formaldehyde

Q: One of our offices takes tissue for biopsy where it is placed into a small glass bottle containing formaldehyde. The bottle is only opened long enough to put the biopsy inside and then immediately closed. What are the restrictions,...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:06 AM

Chemical Storage Room Signage

Q: Should the door to the room that holds liquid nitrogen & carbon dioxide cylinders be labeled in a certain way with specific indications on what's stored there, such as "Caution, Medical Gas"? A: You don't need to specify that...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:05 AM

HIV Prophylaxis for Every Needlestick?

Q: A clinical employee believes that she should be offered immediate prophylactic treatment for HIV if she sustains a needlestick. Is this true? A: Not unless the source patient is known to be HIV positive and, even then, not in...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:04 AM

Door Locks vs. Signs

Q: Must the door to the room that holds biomedical waste have a lock? Or may we just indicate on the outside of the door that there's biomedical waste inside (by using a biohazardous waste label)? A: OSHA does not...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:03 AM

Gloves For High-Level Disinfectants

Q: What type of gloves should be worn when working with glutaraldehyde-based, high-level disinfectants for minor handling, such as removing instruments, and for major handling, such as cleaning instruments? A: In both of these situations, a utility-type glove, such as...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:01 AM

Hepatitis B Vaccine Timeframes

Q: How stringent are the time frames for administering the Hepatitis B vaccine to workers? I know the vaccine schedule of initial dose, then one-month and six-month dose. But employee vacations and sick leave may prevent us from adhering strictly...

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Posted by Claypots at 10:00 AM

Check Strips

Q: Does OSHA require using "check strips" to verify potency of cold sterilants (glutaraldehyde)? A: OSHA regulations do not directly address this issue. From a liability standpoint, however, it makes good sense to check soaking solutions near the expiration date,...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:59 AM

Evacuation Plan

Q: We were told that OSHA requires an evacuation plan. This seems like overkill for our three-person office. We all know how to get out of the building! A: OSHA requires any facility with 10 or more employees to...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:57 AM

Urine, OPIM?

Q: In OSHA's list of potentially infectious materials, urine and some other body fluids are not listed. The hospital where I worked previously considered all body fluids to be infectious. Are there two separate OSHA standards, one for hospitals and...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:56 AM

MSDS Sheets

Q: How long do MSDS sheets need to be kept after discontinuing use of a hazardous chemical? A: OSHA's Hazard communication standard does not mention how long an employer must keep MSDS for chemicals no longer in use in the...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:54 AM

Crowded Office

Q: We've outgrown our current building and plan to relocate to a larger facility next year. In the meantime, space is at a minimum and, in some areas, boxes and other things are stacked from floor to ceiling. Any suggestions...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:53 AM

Hand Creams and Latex Gloves

Q: We've heard that oil-based hand creams should not be used when wearing latex gloves. In our practice, we use latex gloves many times each day. Can you please elaborate on exactly what substances we should use to keep our...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:51 AM

Space Heater

Q: One of our employees says she is always cold and has brought her space heater to work. She keeps it under her desk. Is this an OSHA violation? A: The 1997 Life Safety Code (LSC), under paragraphs 12/13-7.7, prohibits...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:49 AM

Disposing Infectious Waste

Q: I was amazed when our practice administrator showed me how much it costs to dispose of our infectious waste in our seven-physician practice. Any ideas on how to cut costs in this area? A: You pay about five times...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:38 AM

Mercury Disposal

Q: How do we discard spilled mercury? A: Whatever you do, don’t throw it in the trash! Wearing a mask and gloves, scoop the mercury into an airtight, impervious container such as a glass jar and cap it tightly. Label...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:07 PM

Lockout/Tagout Requirements?

Are physician offices subject to OSHA's lockout/tagout regulations? Answer: No. OSHA's lockout/tagout regulations protect employees from electric shock from hardwired equipment (i.e., equipment where the electrical cord cannot be removed from an outlet and is under the control of the...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:06 PM

Post-exposure Testing

Q: Which lab tests for HBV, HCV and HIV should be ordered after a needlestick? A: Order these tests for the source patient: - Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) - Antibody to HIV (anti-HIV) - Antibody to hepatitis C virus...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:05 PM

Disinfecting Eye Goggles

Q: How should eye goggles be disinfected? A: Without specific manufacturer's instructions, don utility gloves and clean with a hospital-level disinfectant. Another way to clean blood and potentially infectious fluids off of reusable protective equipment is to make a 10%...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:02 PM

TB Testing

Q: Do we have to retest employees annually for TB? A: Not unless your workpalce is classified as "medium" risk, (i.e., you had more than three TB patients enter your facility in the last year). If your workplace is...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:01 PM

Container Inside Cabinet?

Q: Can sharps containers be mounted inside a cabinet door? A: No, since it's likely a worker could be injred when trying to maneuver a sharp object dripping with blood into a container inside of a closed cabinet. Other unacceptable...

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Posted by Claypots at 08:59 PM

Keeping Checklists on File

Q: How long do we need to keep the monthly and annual facility checklists? A: OSHA does not specify a length of time for keeping these records. We suggest keeping the Monthly Checklists for a year and the Annual Checklists...

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Posted by Claypots at 08:54 PM

Which Vaccinations Required?

Q: Besides Hepatitis B, what vaccines are employers required to provide to workers? A: Although OSHA does not require employers to provide them, vaccines suggested by the US Public Health Service for healthcare workers are: * Influenza (annually) * Mumps...

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Posted by Claypots at 08:54 PM

OSHA Recordkeeping

Q: What types of OSHA records are necessary for healthcare employees? A: Upon hire, document new empoyee OSHA orientation training and annual re-training for all employees subject to the Blooddborne Pathogens Standard and the Hazard Comminication Standard. Training records need...

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Posted by Claypots at 08:53 PM

Food and Vaccine Storage

Q: Can vaccines and food be stored in the same refrigerator? A: OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard prohibits storing food and drinks in a refrigerator that contains serum-based vaccines or blood. It is also remotely possible that non-serum based vaccines could...

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Posted by Claypots at 08:49 PM

Large Quantities of OPIMS

How do we dispose of large quantities of suctioned patient body fluids? A: We searched countless government sources to find out how to legally dispose of suction canister contents and came up with two viable options. We also learned that...

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Posted by Claypots at 08:48 PM

Ceiling Clearances

Q: How many inches are allowed between supplies and ceilings in storage areas and closets? A: If you have sprinklers in the area, maintain an 18-inch clearance between the stored items and sprinkler heads. In areas without sprinklers, maintain a...

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Posted by Claypots at 08:46 PM

Titer Required?

Q: Are employers required to perform a titer on an employee after vaccinating him or her for hepatitis B? If so, when? A: Yes, test for HbsAb within one to two months after the last dose of the 3-dose HBV...

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Posted by Claypots at 08:44 PM

Danger, Caution, and Warning Signs

Q: What's the difference between danger, caution and warning signs? When are these signs needed in the workplace? " A: Signs and labels tell us where dangers lurk, and what's safe and what isn't. To recognize potentially hazardous situations, the...

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Posted by Claypots at 08:41 PM

Required Posters

Q: What posters are required by Federal Law in an ambulatory medical practice? A: The only poster required by OSHA is the "It's The Law" poster (Form 3165), which is included in Quality America's OSHA Safety Program manual. Other non-OSHA...

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Posted by Claypots at 08:39 PM

Special Precautions for Pregnancy?

Q: What factors in a medical workplace should most concern clinical staff who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant? A: More than 75% of women in the workforce are of reproductive age. Ninety-two percent of the 4.3 million nurses...

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Posted by Claypots at 09:07 PM


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