Emergency procedures for infectious materials

Should an emergency occur with blood or OPIM, emergency procedures exist to minimize exposure and reduce the risks of contact.

What if an employee is exposed?

If exposure occurs, this should be reported to a supervisor as quickly as possible. An exposure report should also be filled out and stored as part of a personal file for 40 years. This allows employers to identify exposures and keep track over time. If the employee does not have an HBV vaccination, they will need to request one for HR. Blood testing can also be carried out to confirm whether an infection occurred.

Post-exposure procedures for employers

Unless there are specific legal and physical limitations, it’s crucial to identify the source individual following an exposure quickly. The route of exposure should be listed, as well as a full breakdown of the incident itself. The source individual should be tested for both HBV and HIV. If they are already a confirmed positive, this testing is not required.

Post-exposure prophylaxes should be provided as defined by the US Public Health Service, and counseling should be offered. Reported illness should be examined through a formal medical examination in addition.

If the employee consents to do so, blood testing should be carried out. If they refuse HIV screening, their blood sample can be stored following other tests. This storage allows further testing to be carried out at a later date if requested. All diagnoses found during blood testing will remain 100% confidential to the employee.

Written opinions from a healthcare professional

Once the initial evaluation is over, the employer is required to offer the employee a copy of a healthcare professional’s written opinion within 15 days of testing. This document will include the evaluation results and whether they have been informed of other medical conditions caused by exposure. Any opinion on the HBV vaccination will be limited to if the employee has received a vaccine and whether it is indicated for them to get it.

Any additional findings by a healthcare professional will remain confidential and cannot be listed in the formal written report.

Recordkeeping Requirements

Medical Records Patient Chart

You will need to meet specific methods of compliance in record keeping. These include:

  • Engineering and work practice controls, such as handwashing and sharps disposal
  • Universal Precautions
  • PPE
  • Housekeeping, such as regulated waste removal and decontamination
Click to view Recordkeeping Requirements

You will also need to keep complete documentation of the following:

  • Considerations and implementations of new commercial medical devices to minimize and reduce occupational exposure risks
  • Solicitation of any non-managerial healthcare professionals, with responsibility for patient care and direct work with sharps, for the evaluation, identification, and selection of controls in the workplace.

Beyond this, you must also ensure your exposure control plan is updated and reviewed at least once per year and whenever necessary to encompass new tasks, modified roles, and changes in procedure that affect the risk of occupational exposure.

Employees must also have access to relevant records and medical information for their designated representatives. In addition, they must offer access to the Assistant Secretary, as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Employee Access Regulations Exposure and Medical Records

Click to view Employee Access Regulations Exposure and Medical Records

The Hazard Communication Standard

All employees must have complete training and accessible information on the hazardous materials in their working environment and know the requirements of the hazard communication standard.

The information they should know includes:

  • How to use labels and material safety data sheets
  • Where the written hazard communication program is and the information included
  • The hazards of working with chemicals and the protections in place, such as PPE
  • Training in the use and suitability of PPE
  • How to choose, wear, and effectively dispose of PPE

OSHA expects all employers to document their training, ensuring they meet their legal requirements for every employee. This standard requires that all documentation include the employee’s name, the subject of training, and the date the training took place.