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OSHA Watch Question of the Month

Each month we pose a new OSHA compliance question in our OSHA Watch Newsletter.  Below is the Nov/Dec 2005 Question of the Month . (Not an OSHA Watch subscriber? Click here for a sneak preview of our OSHA Watch Newsletter and subscribe in time for our next issue!). Ask a question here.

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2005 Question (and Answer) of the Month

Jan/Feb Question of the Month:  Do we have to retest employees annually for TB?

Answer:  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 classified as "low" risk, annual employee TB testing is not needed.  Stay tuned for additional guidance on this issue once the new CDC TB Guildelines are finalized.

March/April Question of the Month:  How should eye goggles be disinfected?

Answer:  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% solution of household bleach and soak the item in it for 10 minutes. Then rinse with tap water and air dry.

May/June Question of the Month: Must gloves be worn when giving injections?

Answer:  The bloodborne pathogens standard requires glove use whenever it's reasonable to anticipate hand contact with blood or other potentially infectious body fluids, such as when performing vascular access procedures. Surprisingly, OSHA's 11/05/99 Compliance Directive says: "Gloves are usually not necessary when administering intramuscular or subcutaneous injections as long as bleeding that could result in hand contact with blood or OPIM is not anticipated."

Bottom Line: The OSHA Experts at Quality America usually don't interpret the regs more stringently than OSHA does, but in this case we beg to differ. Since most healthcare workers aren't clairvoyant and can't predict when a drop of blood will be on the skin when the needle is withdrawn, we recommend wearing gloves for any kind of injection. If you're in OSHA's camp, please reply to sdunn@charter.net and let us know why. If we hear from you, we'll pass along your comments (anonymously if you wish) in the next issue of OSHA Watch.

Source: http://www.osha-slc.gov/OshDoc/Directive_data/CPL_2-2_44D.html

July/August Question of the Month:  Which lab tests for HBV, HCV and HIV should be ordered after a needlestick?

Answer:  Order these tests for the source patient:

  • Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)
  • Antibody to HIV (anti-HIV)
  • Antibody to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV)

If the source patient tests negative for HBV, HCV & HIV, there is no need to test the exposed employee. If the source patient tests positive for HBV, HCV and/or HIV, or if the source patient is unknown or refuses testing, order the lab tests listed below.

If the source patient is positive for:

  • Hepatitis B, order HbsAg test for employees who are not immune. No testing is required for immune employees.
  • Hepatitis C, order Anti HCV and ALT tests. Repeat in 4-6 months and at 12 months HIV, order Anti HIV test. Repeat at 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months or anytime illness occurs that resembles HIV infection.

September /October 2005 Question of the Month:  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 person servicing the equipment).

November/December 2005 Question of the Month: How do we discard spilled mercury?

Answer:  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 the jar "Mercury for Recycling. Do Not Open". Place the jar in a storage area where it can't be casually knocked over or broken. If your community offers a mercury recycling program, take advantage of it! The EPA has now classified mercury-containing equipment as "universal waste," so expect to see more mercury recycling facilities across the nation.

Visit Our OSHAlert Blog For the complete Question of the Month Archives (2005, 2004, 2003) >>


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