Biohazard Disposal How to Safely Manage Dangerous Waste. Biohazardous waste is a type of waste that contains infectious agents or pathogens that can cause illness, injury, or death to living beings. These types of wastes are usually generated in healthcare facilities, laboratories, and other settings where people have been in contact with pathogens.
Safety precautions when working with biohazards is key to managing the waste. OSHA has standards that speak specifically to the protection from harmful pathogens of these biohazardous materials. The following guide will help you understand what is required of the employees as well as the employer.
BBP includes any microorganism that is disease-causing or potentially disease-causing that can be transmitted through blood or other bodily fluids. The other body fluids are called “OPIM” (other potentially infectious materials) and can include but are not limited to such fluids as: amniotic fluid, vaginal secretions, fluid found around joints and organs such as the heart, brain, knees, spine, and lungs; and semen.
Bloodborne pathogens have the potential to transmit infectious diseases such as HBV (Hepatitis B), HCV (Hepatitis C), AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus), malaria, syphilis, and brucellosis.
Workers and Employees Required to take BBP Training
Any individual that is in an environment that has the potential to be exposed to BBP needs to have BBP training. While most of these workers are within the healthcare field, there are many that aren’t. Examples of those requiring BBP training include but are not limited to:
Create an exposure control plan. The plan is designed to reduce or eliminate exposures due to the occupation. The exposure control plan must include two complete lists of job classifications where workers will have all or some occupational exposure. It must also contain a task list and the performed procedures by the workers that result in exposure. The plan must be updated on an annual basis to indicate any task, position, or procedure changes that may affect occupational exposure and any technology changes that can reduce or eliminate the exposure. Included in the plan is an annual documentation that employers have either thought about or started using commercially available medical devices that are safer and designed to reduce or eliminate occupational exposure. An important aspect of the exposure control plan is that employers must document that they have received input from workers that are considered to be frontline in the identification, evaluation, and selection of effective engineering and work practice controls.
Use universal precautions as it relates to treating all OPIM and human blood as if it contains bloodborne pathogens that could be infectious.
Identify and use engineering controls which are specific tools designed to remove or isolate hazardous bloogborne pathogens from the workplace. These controls can include but are not limited to self-sheathing needles, sharps disposal containers, and the adoption of sharp needles with injury protection and needless systems.
Identify and ensure that the work practice controls are used. Establish a set of practices that reduce exposure incidents by altering the methods that tasks are accomplished. An example might be changing the way sharps are handled and disposed of, the handling of specimens, or cleaning surfaces that have been contaminated.
Make sure that all workers have PPE (personal protection equipment) as well as clean, repair and replace equipment as needed at no cost to the worker. The PPE can include but are not limited to: globes, eye protection, gowns, and masks.
All workers that have occupational exposure must have hepatitis B vaccinations available at no cost to the worker. The vaccination needs to be offered to the worker as part of their post-bloodborne pathogens training and within ten days of their first occupational exposure job assignment.
In the case of a worker that experiences an incident of exposure, the employer must make an evaluation and follow up as part of the post-exposure evaluation. An exposure incident is a blood or OPIM contact specific mouth, eye, or other mucous membrane, or non-intact skin. For the evaluation in which the exposure incident happened, test and identify the source individual for HIV or HBV infectivity; if the source individual consents or no consent is required by law, collect and test the blood of the exposed worker as long as the worker gives consent. Additional offerings include post-exposure prophylaxis, counseling, and the evaluation of any illnesses reported. While all diagnosis must be confidential, a healthcare professional will supply employer a limited written opinion.
The use of signs and labels for the purpose of communication hazards. Warning labels must be affixed to regulated waste containers, containers of contaminated reusable sharps; freezers, refrigerators or cooling units that contain OPIM or blood; other containers that are used for the purpose of storing, transporting, or shipping OPIM or blood; equipment that has been contaminated that is being serviced or shipped; containers or bags of laundry that has been contaminated with exception of those that are provided in the standard. A facility may make use of red containers or red bags in lieu of labels. In the case of HBV and HIV production facilities and research laboratories, signs must be posted at all access doors when infected animals or OPIM are present in a containment module or work area.
Provide training and information to workers. Employers must make sure that all workers get regular training that covers all facets of the standard including but not limited to: information on bloodborne pathogens and diseases, ways to control occupational exposure, vaccine for hepatitis B, medical evaluation and post-incident procedures listed as part of follow-up. The training will be for initial assignment and then training at least every year after and/or if there are new or changed procedures or tasks that affect the occupational exposure condition of the worker. Specific to HBV and HIV production and laboratory workers is specialized initial training as well as the standard training provided to all workers with occupational exposure potential. Workers that receive training have to have the option of asking questions to the individual(s) doing the training and the training must be at an educational level and in the language that is understood by the workers.
Maintaining training and medical records for the workers. The employer is required to maintain and keep a sharps injury log unless it is exempt under Part 1904.
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