OSHA Healthcare Guidelines: Don’t Go Wrong with the Respirator fit testing for TB

And so, what are the bloodborne pathogens, TB and some of the antibiotic resistant organisms. That's gotten a lot of press. You know, the XTB and the MRSA and the VRSA. Those are becoming very big problems in the society at large and particularly in health care. Read this information given by an expert a healthcare audio conference and know more about OSHA compliance.

So well, from an OSHA point of view, we've got the first one is the bloodborne pathogen standard, 1910.1030. And we've all been living with that for a number of years so it's kind of old hat. You know, that's where the HIV and Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. New employees you have to test for presence of, you know, whether they have the hepatitis.

And then of course, you want to be offering the vaccines where there is a vaccine available. Our expert in a health system conference cited the example of hepatitis B. And then, all the employees that are at risk have to go through this process and then you have to decide which of the employees are at risk.

For the bloodborne pathogen standard, That's where you get some issues with the gloves and red bags and biohazard signs and you see a lot of hospitals for their janitor’s closets now only if they're putting needle sticks or needle boxes of red bags, they'll put a bottle hazardous sign on a janitor’s closet or I see more often on the solitary rooms. Because that’s where they're keeping the temporary storing biohazard bags and sharps containers.

Laundering is a sort of a special issue. You are allowed to launder the linen soaked with blood. You know, and there's different ways of handling it. And again, you want to be either labeling the bags or color – you can color code your launder bags so that it's handled right.

But if there's any contaminated laundry, it needs to be handled properly with gloves and taking the same precautions as you would trash probably.

With TB, now, there is some news with that. For a long time, OSHA was contemplating a standard for tuberculosis but they dropped that. They are not – they don’t have an OSHA standard. Well, that kind of caused the problem because for a long time, the healthcare guidelines talked about how do you handle N95 respirators for health care workers dealing with TB.

And so, they had a way of handling that and annual fit testing was not required. You just did a one time fit testing. Well, now, that there's no TB standard, this respirator requirements drop over to general industry and guess what. Annual respirator fit testing is now required for all employees in health care that are potentially exposed to TB.

So you need to do that. I – it's a doable thing. Get your programs up to speed for the medical evaluations and the fit testing and the whole nine yard. And we'll talk a little bit about that and the respirator standard.

So OSHA healthcare guidelines do have TB and that leads to the isolation rooms. The employer must assure there's an AFB isolation room or what they call now AIIR rooms, the Airborne Infectious Isolation rooms.

And when – on a normal circumstances, the room (it just uses) a normal room so you don’t have to do anything. But when you put a suspect TB or TB patient in that room, you've got to do a smoke testing. And you do it before the person is put in the room and then daily while they're in the room.

Some facilities have monitors. And that's good and then it kind of makes it easy to do the daily checking. Just check that. But don’t let the monitor, you know, prevent you from following the OSHA requirement. And there is signage requirement.

And sometimes we don’t see signs on the isolation exhaust fans up in the maintenance fan house and you really do want to put signs on that so that maintenance workers working on those fans are properly warned.

The isolation monitors, those are not required by OSHA. The American Institute of Architects Guidelines do talk about continuous monitoring devices. It may not be required in your state. It doesn’t have to be audible be at least for the AIA, they ask for a visual. You might be required if you're following the AIA healthcare guidelines.

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