Books: A Guide to Bloodborne Pathogens in the workplace

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Bloodborne Pathogens in the workplace guide was originally prepared by Carol R. Namkoong, formerly of the N.C. Department of Labor. The information in this guide was reviewed in 2010.

This guide is intended to be consistent with all existing OSHA standards; therefore, if an area is considered by the reader to be inconsistent with a standard, then the OSHA standard should be followed.

In late 1991, the federal government enacted a new standard that sets requirements for employers with employees who are at risk of being exposed to blood and human body fluids. The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard was a response to the growing danger posed by two particular bloodborne diseases: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) with its related disease of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which can cause serious and life-threatening illness.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has been well documented in the media. The problems associated with HBV infection, and more recently hepatitis C virus (HCV), are less well known but can result in life-long health problems and carrier status for the infected individual. Workers who may be directly exposed to blood and other certain body fluids should be aware of methods employed to lessen the danger of exposure. Employers in the health care industry, and in all other industries as well, should be aware of the standard’s requirements.

( Also Read: How to Prevent Needlestick Injuries? )

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This industry guide follows the organization of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. Beginning in Part 2, each part of the guide corresponds to a section of the standard. In addition, information has been added from OSHA Instruction CPL 02-02-069, “Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030,” dated Nov. 27, 2001, which reflects changes to the standard mandated by the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act. In North Carolina, this standard has been incorporated into the occupational safety and health standards for the construction industry at 13 NCAC 07F.0207. Finally, this guide is intended to be consistent with federal and state OSHA standards; however, if an area is considered by the reader to be inconsistent with a standard, then the standard should be followed.

HIV and AIDS

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a bloodborne and sexually transmitted disease in which the retrovirus known as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) invades the body. HIV damages the immune system and allows other infectious agents to invade the body and cause disease. It may take several years for an HIV infection to result in the disease AIDS. It is still unknown whether an HIV infection always leads to AIDS.

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HIV is spread through body fluids, primarily blood, semen, and vaginal fluids. A list of other potentially infectious materials (sometimes referred to as OPIM) is provided in the discussion section of the standard. HIV is transmitted by sexual contact, needle sharing, and contaminated blood or blood products. An HIV-infected woman can pass the virus to her fetus. It is not transmitted by casual contact, by touching or shaking hands, by eating food prepared by a person infected with HIV, or by drinking fountains, telephones, toilets, or other surfaces. It is not transmitted by insects or through air or water.
The occupational risk of being infected with HIV in health care settings is low and is most often associated with the transfer of blood from a patient with HIV infection, primarily through needlestick injuries. Available evidence indicates that the risk of HIV infection following a needlestick exposure to the blood of an HIV-infected patient is less than 0.5 percent.
To date, no vaccine is available to prevent AIDS. No antiviral drugs are available to cure AIDS. Some drugs, however, have been found to inhibit the action of the virus, and others are able to fight certain opportunistic infections. Research to
develop antiviral drugs and vaccines continues to receive high priority. Prevention, however, is currently the only approach to control the virus.

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The content of the Guide to Bloodborne Pathogens in the workplace

  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • 1 Bloodborne Pathogens
  • 2 The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030)
  • 3 Exposure Control Plan
  • 4 Methods of Compliance)
  • 5 Hepatitis B Vaccination and Post-Exposure Evaluation and Follow-up
  • 6 Communication of Hazards to Employees
  • 7 Recordkeeping
  • 8 Glossary
  • 9 References

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