The U.S. Department of Labor developed a federal regulation relating to controlling infection and use of asepsis. This regulation was described as the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standards of 1991. The acronym OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act. This law is meant to protect workers in the health field from accidentally acquiring infections.
The following are the different categories of OSHA:
- Universal/standard precautions: This is the heart of OSHA. This precaution means assuming that all blood and body fluids are infected with bloodborne pathogens.
- Body substance isolation: This involves the use of personal protective equipment when in contact with blood and other infectious materials. For example: gloves, masks, shoe covers, and face shields.
- Workplace controls: Reduce the exposure by varying the manner in which techniques are used. For example: wash hands, bandage cuts, and flush your eyes if exposed.
- Engineering controls: This is removing health hazards from the workplace by mechanical and physical means. For example: hand washing and tongs to pick up broken glass.
- Housekeeping: This is maintaining the workplace. All equipment and instruments used must be appropriately cleaned immediately after usage.
- Hepatitis B vaccination: All employees at risk for exposure have the vaccine available to them, free of charge. The vaccine is an intramuscular injection given in three doses. The second injection is given 30 days after the first, and the third injection given 6 months from the first.
How do you dispose of biohazardous materials?
Biohazardous wastes are potentially infectious materials. These materials can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Blood and blood products
- Human tissues
- Body fluids
- Soiled linen or clothing
- Used instruments, such as sharps
- Used personal protective equipment (PPE)
The following are the steps to disposal:
- Wear gloves when disposing of waste.
- Place the waste in the appropriate container marked biohazard.
- Keep containers closed when not in use.
- Dispose of sharps or needles into the container.
- Do not break, recap, or reuse contaminated needles.
- Discard disposable sharps containers when they are two-thirds full.
- Wash hands after touching blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, and contaminated items. Wash hands before and after removing gloves, before and after procedures, and in between patient contact.
- Wear gloves when touching blood, body fluids, excretions, and secretions and with patients who have open wounds.
- Wear PPE during procedures that generate splashes or sprays of blood, body fluids, excretions, and secretions. PPE includes masks, face shields, eye protection, and gowns.
- Contaminated patient care equipment must be handled with care.
- Maintain environmental control such as routine care, cleaning, and disinfection of surfaces.
- Occupational health and bloodborne pathogens standards, if used, will help avoid injuries when using sharp objects.
- To avoid injury, never recap needles using both hands.
- Isolation procedures should be used to remove diseased individuals so that they do not contaminate others.