Interface with other standards | Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens

A revision to the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses rule was published January 19, 2001 and became effective January 1, 2002. Paragraph 1904.8 requires all work-related injuries from needlesticks and cuts, lacerations, punctures and scratches from sharp objects contaminated with another person’s blood or OPIM to be recorded on the OSHA 300 as an injury. To protect the employee’s privacy, the employees name may not be entered on the OSHA 300. Paragraphs 1904.29(b)(6) thru (b)(9) discuss privacy concerns. Employers must keep a separate confidential list of the case numbers and employee names so they can update the cases or provide them if asked by the government. If the employee develops a bloodborne disease, the entry must be updated and recorded as an illness.

The Hazard Communication standard, §1910.1200, applies only to the hazards of chemicals in the workplace and does not apply to biological hazards such as bloodborne diseases.

Records concerning employee exposure to bloodborne pathogens and records about HIV and/or HBV status are both considered employee medical records within the meaning of §1910.1020. Under §1913.10(b)(4), the Compliance Officer may review these records onsite for verification of compliance with the medical surveillance requirements. If requested, this review shall be conducted under the observation of the medical record holder or other employer designated healthcare professional. The compliance officer should not record or take offsite any information from the medical record other than documentation of the fact of compliance or noncompliance.

Generally, compliance/noncompliance verification requires no additional action (i.e., in-depth review, copying, and/or removal of confidential medical information from the worksite) on behalf of the compliance officer. If additional or more detailed information is required for clarification, or to support a suspected violation, the compliance officer is advised to seek a medical access order (MAO) for obtaining the necessary information from the Director (Medical Records Officer), Office of Occupational Medicine. Also, when a compliance officer anticipates, or if it is known that there may be a problem in gaining access to confidential medical information/medical records, or the employer denies access during the course of the inspection, the compliance officer is advised to obtain an administrative subpoena (from the regional solicitor) in addition to the MAO before looking at any confidential medical information or medical records.

Generally, the Respiratory Protection standard, §1910.134, does not apply. However, placing or storing respirators in areas where they could be contaminated by body fluids constitutes a violation of §1910.134(h)(2)(i) or §1910.139(b)(6), if the respirator is used for protection against tuberculosis.

The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard, §1910.120, covers four groups of employees: workers at uncontrolled hazardous waste remediation sites; workers at Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permitted hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities; workers performing corrective actions involving cleanup operations at RCRA sites; and those workers expected to respond to emergencies caused by the uncontrolled release of a hazardous substance.

1. The definition of hazardous substance includes any biological agent or infectious material which may cause disease or death. There are potential scenarios where the bloodborne and HAZWOPER standards may interface, such as: workers involved in cleanup operations at hazardous waste sites involving infectious waste; workers at RCRA permitted incinerators that burn infectious waste; workers at RCRA permitted incinerators that burn infectious waste and that are involved in cleanup operations; and workers responding to an emergency caused by the uncontrolled release of infectious material, e.g., a transportation accident.

2. Employers of employees engaged in these types of activities must comply with the requirements in §1910.120 as well as the bloodborne pathogens standard. If there is a conflict or overlap, the provision that is more protective of employee safety and health applies.
This directive provides guidance for enforcement of the Bloodborne Pathogens standard. The agency’s application of this policy in any particular matter will, however, depend upon all relevant circumstances. For purposes of providing information and guidance, this directive also restates, clarifies, or explains the provisions of the standard. OSHA’s restatement, clarification or explanation of the requirements of the standard does not amend the standard or create new legal duties, obligations or defenses.

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