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OSHAlert Blog from Quality America

Stay abreast on the latest OSHA compliance news and information. We'll have OSHA compliance news, helpful tips, commentary, question & answer entries, product updates, new product annoucements, and much more. Be sure to bookmark this page!

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Laboratory Safety Training

Q: What are the requirements for safety training of laboratory office employees that are not exposed to elements in the laboratory? They may on rare occasions have to transport specimens.

A: I am not sure what you mean by being exposed to the "elements" -- the main exposures OSHA is concerned with in a medical laboratory setting are exposures to bloodborne pathogens and exposures to hazardous chemicals.

If staff transport specimens, then they do have risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Since this isn't part of their everyday duties, OSHA would consider them employees with possible risk of exposure, or class II. They will need to be listed in your Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan on your Exposure Determination List #2, as well as provided training and offered hepatitis B vaccination/titers.

For a pre-written self customizable Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan, check out Tab 5 of the Quality America OSHA Safety Program Manual or Dental OSHA Safety Program Manual.

Posted by Quality America on May 30, 2008 in Bloodborne Pathogens OSHA Training | Comments (0)

Infection Control for MRSA Pneumonia Patient

Q: We are an outpatient oncology office and we had a patient present for treatment who has MRSA pneumonia. My front office staff were not aware and the patient, coughing, waited in the waiting area for a fairly long period of time and was drawn in our regular lab. One of our physicians who had seen the patient in the hospital was aware of his diagnosis and eventually he was placed in an isolated room away from other patients and the proper PPE protocol was used. We do not have a "true isolation" room and I do not feel that we should be treating this patient in our office. My doctor does not think my employees are at risk. Can you give me some information regarding MRSA pneumonia and how we should manage this patient?

A:MRSA pneumonia is a relatively new infection that wasn't on national health officials' radar until about five years ago. MRSA pneumonia first gained attention during the 2003-04 influenza season, when 15 cases were diagnosed.
It's still very rare, but is likely on the increase. The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Thoracic Society issued a joint statement stating that an increased amount of MRSA pneumonia has been seen as of last year.

Staph infections on the skin are communicable, but CDC experts don't believe MRSA pneumonia can be transmitted from one person to another. No pockets of MRSA pneumonia have been reported, which also suggests it's not communicable. Although some newspaper sources indicate a person with MRSA pneumonia who is coughing may be contagious, a definitive understanding of its transmission is not yet known. It's unclear why or how it occurs, although it appears to occur more frequently during the flu season.

Since it's not clear whether or not MRSA pneumonia can become airborne, it's unclear whether an isolation room is necessary to manage patients with MRSA pneumonia. If it does turn out to be contagious, certainly precautions involving masks and isolation would be good infection control measures.

If it turns outs, as seems likely based upon CDC findings, that MRSA pneumonia isn't communicable, normal universal precautions would likely be sufficient.

It sounds like we'll just have to wait and see as more research is done on this new type of infection.

For more on respiratory infection control, including a pandemic influenza plan, check out Tab 6 of the Quality America OSHA Safety Program Manual or Tab 7 for the Dental OSHA Safety Program Manual. Many questions regarding respiratory infection control are answered in the manual.

Posted by Quality America on May 30, 2008 in Respiratory Infection Control | Comments (0)

Annual TST for Those Who Administer BCG?

Q: I work in a urology practice and we use BCG to treat for bladder cancer. All our nursing personnel are trained to administer this medication to patients via bladder instillation. Do we need to be skin tested periodically for TB? What measures do we need to take and is there any documentation we need to keep?

A: Recommendations call for annual TB skin testing for those who administer BCG. Make sure to document employees' skin tests and results and to keep the MSDS for BCG in an area accessible to your nursing staff.

For more information on how to perform TB skin tests refer to Tab 6 of Quality America's OSHA Safety Program Manual, or Tab 7 if you've got the Dental OSHA Safety Program Manual.

Posted by Quality America on May 29, 2008 in HazCom | Comments (0)

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