Engineering and work practice controls are the primary methods used to control the transmission of HBV and HIV. To the extent feasible, the employer must institute these controls to eliminate or minimize employee exposure to bloodborne diseases.
Engineering controls reduce employee exposure in the workplace by either removing the hazard or isolating the worker from exposure. Self-sheathing needles and special containers for contaminated sharp instruments are examples of engineering controls. Engineering controls must be examined and maintained or replaced on a scheduled basis.
For example, disposable airway equipment or resuscitation bags and mechanical respiratory assist devices, such as oxygen demand valve resuscitators, should be available on all emergency vehicles and to all emergency response personnel who respond to medical emergencies or victim rescues. Pocket mouth-to-mouth resuscitation devices designed to isolate emergency response personnel from direct contact with fluids should be provided.
Puncture-resistant sharps containers must be easily accessible and located in areas where needles, syringes, or other sharp instruments are commonly used.
Work practice controls alter the manner in which a task is performed. Correct work procedures include proper handling and disposal of needles and sharps, used bandages and gauze, linens, and all other emergency items that come in contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials.
All procedures involving blood or other potentially infectious materials must be performed in such a manner as to minimize spattering, generating droplets, splashing, and spraying. Mouth pipetting/suctioning of blood or other potentially infectious materials is prohibited.
Needles and sharps
Shearing or breaking of needles is prohibited. Needles must not be bent, removed, or recapped unless it can be demonstrated that no alternative is feasible or that such action is required by a specific medical procedure. Any recapping or removing of needles must be done through the use of a mechanical device or one-handed technique.
- Revised: 2002/10
Blood tube holders with needles attached must be immediately discarded into a sharps container after the device’s safety feature is activated.
Immediately, or as soon as possible after use, contaminated reusable sharps must be placed in puncture- resistant, leak-proof containers, labeled as a biohazard, or color-coded red until properly reprocessed. Specimens of blood or other potentially infectious materials must be placed in leak-proof containers.
Bags or receptacles containing articles or disposable items contaminated with body fluids must be labeled or color-coded according to the requirements of the BBP standard.
In work areas where there is a reasonable likelihood of occupational exposure, safe work practices include restricting eating, drinking, smoking, applying cosmetics or lip balm, and handling contact lenses, and preventing the storage of food and/or drink in refrigerators or other locations where blood or potentially infectious materials are kept.
Employers must provide readily accessible hand washing facilities and ensure that personnel wash hands and any other exposed skin area with soap and water, and flush mucous membranes with water immediately or as soon as feasible following contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials or after removing personal protective equipment.
If hand washing facilities are not available, employees must be provided with antiseptic hand cleanser, clean cloth/paper towels, or antiseptic towelettes. In this instance, employees must be instructed to wash their hands with soap and running water as soon as possible.
Equipment, other than personal protective equipment, which during the course of operations could become contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious materials, must be checked routinely and, prior to servicing or shipping, must be decontaminated, unless the employer can demonstrate that decontamination of the equipment or portions of it is not feasible.
Law enforcement officers
For law enforcement officers, there is a potential for exposure during searches and evidence handling. In these instances, employees should use caution in searching clothing and in searching purses or other similar items. Where the contents cannot be determined easily, contents should be emptied by turning the bag upside down over a flat surface. Also, to avoid tearing gloves, use evidence tape instead of staples to seal evidence.