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Regulatory Compliance » Bloodborne Pathogens in First Response Environment
About Bloodborne PathogensOn December 6, 1991 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published the "Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens" Standard.
The purpose of this regulation is to "eliminate or minimize occupational exposure to Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and other Bloodborne Pathogens".
Other agencies of the Federal government have been involved with the issue of employee exposure to infectious materials for some time.
For instance, for a number of years the Department of Health and Human Service's has published a booklet entitled, "Guidelines for Prevention of Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis B Virus to Healthcare and Public Safety Workers."
Additionally, in 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published interim final rules on the "Standards for Tracking and Management of Medical Wastes".
The impetus behind this activity is varied.
First, the publicity received in recent years regarding the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and AIDS has sensitized the public and legislators alike regarding the transmission of infectious diseases.
Additionally, increased emphasis on employee safety and health has elevated the concern regarding exposure to Hepatitis B. OSHA initially became involved in this area in 1983, issuing a set of voluntary guidelines designed to reduce the risk of occupational exposure to Hepatitis B Virus.
In late 1986, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) petitioned OSHA to formally take action to reduce the risk to employees from exposure to various infectious agents.
Later that same year, the Service Employees International Union, the National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees and other groups petitioned OSHA to create a standard to protect employees from the hazard posed by occupational exposure to the Hepatitis B Virus.
It was these actions that prompted OSHA to begin work on the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. This standard represents OSHA's first regulation of occupational exposure to biological hazards.
This standard has also been changed several times over the years, including a recent update concerning the Exposure Control Plan that attempts to reduce sharps related injuries.