Frequently Asked Questions

OSHA

What is OSHA?


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Labor. Congress established the agency under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which President Richard M. Nixon signed into law on December 29, 1970. The Agency came to exist the following year. more...





GHS, SDS & Labeling

What is the GHS


The acronym GHS stands for the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). The GHS method of classification is based on the intrinsic properties of substances and harmonizes most classification criteria for supply and transportation of chemical substances. Individual countries or regions at their own discretion can implement their own building blocks. However, the building blocks may not be altered. The GHS provides accommodations for Competent Authority Options and special limits for the communication of components in mixtures. We describe the GHS in some more detail here and you can read about specific notices and releases from OSHA and other Federal agencies here.




Where can I find comprehensive detailed information about the GHS


You can find a lot of very good information here




What is the difference between a SDS and MSDS?


Safety Data Sheet (SDS) in some countries may still be called a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). In countries that have adopted GHS, Safety Data Sheet (SDS) will be the only accepted name for the hazard communication document for chemicals.




What is the purpose of a SDS?


Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a very important document to inform its audience of the hazards of a chemical substance or mixture and provide advice on safety precautions.




What are the different section of a Safety Data Sheet (SDS)?


A Safety Data Sheet or (SDS) has 16 core elments as follows:

  • Section 1 Identification of the substance or mixture and of the supplier;
  • Section 2 Hazard identification;
  • Section 3 Composition/information on ingredients;
  • Section 4 First-aid measures;
  • Section 5 Fire-fighting measures;
  • Section 6 Accidental release measures;
  • Section 7 Handling and storage;
  • Section 8 Exposure controls/personal protection;
  • Section 9 Physical and chemical properties;
  • Section 10 Stability and reactivity;
  • Section 11 Toxicological information;
  • Section 12 Ecological information;
  • Section 13 Disposal consideration;
  • Section 14 Transport information;
  • Section 15 Regulatory information;
  • Section 16 Other information.




When does a chemical manufacturer update their SDS?


Chemical suppliers need to periodically review, revise, and update their safety data sheets (SDSs). Changes are made as new hazard info is found, new information about protective measures is ascertained, or changes are made to product information such as composition or use. In the US, OSHA provides the following guideline: " Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, or employers who become newly aware of any significant information regarding the hazards of a chemical, or ways to protect against the hazards shall revise SDSs within 3 months. The labels shall be revised within 6 months. If the chemical is not currently being produced or imported, the chemical manufacturer or importer must add the information to the SDS/labels before the chemical is introduced into the workplace again." OSHA’s hazard communication standard does not clearly define what significant information is. This is generally assumed to include the change of classification, new hazards, new occupational exposure limits, and new risk management measures. See for OSHA specific details:

You can also find an in depth look at this topic with region and country specific details here.





Bloodborne Pathogens

What is the Bloodborne Pathogens standard?


OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) as amended pursuant to the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000, prescribes safeguards to protect workers against the health hazards caused by bloodborne pathogens. Its requirements address items such as exposure control plans, universal precautions, engineering and work practice controls, personal protective equipment, housekeeping, laboratories, hepatitis B vaccination, post-exposure follow-up, hazard communication and training, and recordkeeping. The standard places requirements on employers whose workers can be reasonably anticipated to contact blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), such as unfixed human tissues and certain body fluids. Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




What is the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act?


The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (the Act) (Pub. L. 106-430) was signed into law on November 6, 2000. Because occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens from accidental sharps injuries in healthcare and other occupational settings continues to be a serious problem, Congress required modification of OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) to set forth in greater detail (and make more specific) OSHA's requirement for employers to identify, evaluate and implement safer medical devices such as needleless systems and sharps with engineered sharps protections. The Act also mandated additional requirements for maintaining a sharps injury log and for the involvement of non-managerial healthcare workers in identifying, evaluating and choosing effective engineering and work practice controls. These are workers who are responsible for direct patient care and be potentially exposed to injuries from contaminated sharps. Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




How does the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act apply to OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard?


The Act directed OSHA to revise its Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030). OSHA published the revised standard in the Federal Register on January 18, 2001; it took effect on April 18, 2001. The requirement to implement the use of engineering controls, which includes safer medical devices, has been in effect since 1992.




How does the standard affect states that operate their own federally-approved occupational safety and health programs?


States and territories that operate their own OSHA-approved state programs are required to adopt a Bloodborne Pathogens standard that is at least as effective as the Federal OSHA standard. Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




Does the standard apply to public sector (state and local government) employees?


The 25 states and two territories that operate OSHA-approved state plans are required to enforce an "at least as effective" standard in the public sector. In the remaining states where Federal OSHA has jurisdiction, hospitals in the public sector are required to comply with the Bloodborne Pathogens standard with enforcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (42 U.S.C. 1395cc(a)(1)(V) and (b)(4)).




Do the Bloodborne Pathogens standard and the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act apply to me?


OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard, including its 2001 revisions, applies to all employers who have an employee(s) with occupational exposure (i.e., reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) that may result from the performance of the employee's duties). These employers must implement the requirements set forth in the standard. Some of the new and clarified provisions in the standard apply only to healthcare settings, but other provisions, particularly the requirements to update the Exposure Control Plan and to keep a sharps injury log, apply to non-healthcare as well as healthcare settings.




What does the standard say about the use of safer medical devices?


The standard states, "engineering and work practice controls shall be used to eliminate or minimize employee exposure." The 2001 revision defines engineering controls as "controls (e.g., sharps disposal containers, self-sheathing needles, safer medical devices, such as sharps with engineered sharps injury protections and needleless systems) that isolate or remove the bloodborne pathogens hazard from the workplace." Employers who have employees exposed to contaminated sharps must consider and implement appropriate commercially available and effective safer medical devices designed to eliminate or minimize occupational exposure. Also, employees with occupational exposure must be trained in the use and limitations of methods that will prevent or reduce exposure, including appropriate engineering controls, work practices and personal protective equipment. Therefore, training must include instruction on any new techniques and practices associated with new engineering controls. Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




If I've never had an employee experience a needlestick, do I still need to use safer devices?


Yes. OSHA standards are intended to be implemented as a means to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses. To most effectively avoid percutaneous injuries from contaminated sharps, employers must implement engineering controls, including safer medical devices, so that employees have them available to use.




How many non-managerial employees do I need to include in the process of choosing safer medical devices?


Small medical offices may want to seek input from all occupationally exposed employees when making their decisions. Larger facilities are not required to request input from all exposed employees; however, the employees selected should represent the range of exposure situations encountered in the workplace (e.g., pediatrics, emergency department, etc.). Regardless of the number chosen, in order to be included in the process the workers must be responsible for direct patient care and be potentially exposed to injuries from contaminated sharps. The solicitation of employees who have been involved in the input and evaluation process must be documented in the Exposure Control Plan.




Does OSHA have a list of available safer medical devices?


No. OSHA does not approve or endorse any product. It is the employer's responsibility to identify and implement appropriate, commercially available and effective safer medical devices for the specific medical procedures being conducted. Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




What if a safer option is not available for the medical device that I use?


A key element in choosing a safer medical device, other than its appropriateness to the procedure and its effectiveness, is its availability on the market. If there is no safer option to the medical device that you are using for a particular procedure, you are not required to adopt a device different from the one currently being used. During your annual review of devices, you must consider new or prospective safer options and document this fact in your written Exposure Control Plan. With advances in medical technology, more devices are becoming available for different procedures. If no engineering control is available, work practice controls shall be used and, if occupational exposure still remains, personal protective equipment must also be used.




Do I have to keep a sharps injury log? Does it have to be confidential?


If, as an employer, you are required to maintain a log of occupational injuries and illnesses under 29 CFR Part 1904, you must also establish and maintain a sharps injury log for recording percutaneous injuries from contaminated sharps. The sharps injury log must contain, at a minimum, the type and brand of device involved in the injury (if known), the department or work area where the exposure incident occurred, and an explanation of how the incident occurred. The log must be recorded and maintained in a manner that protects the confidentiality of the injured worker (e.g., removal of personal identifiers).




Does the revised Bloodborne Pathogens standard apply to medical or dental offices that have fewer than 10 employees?


OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard applies to all employers with employees who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), regardless of how many workers are employed. However, the offices and clinics of medical doctors and dentists are exempt from the requirement to keep a log of occupational injuries and illnesses and thus exempt from maintaining a sharps injury log. (See Appendix A to Subpart B of 29 CFR Part 1904.) All other applicable provisions of the Bloodborne Pathogens standard still apply. Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




What information do I need to include in my written Exposure Control Plan (ECP)? How often do I need to update it?


The required elements of an ECP are:

  • The exposure determination which identifies job classifications with occupational exposure and tasks and procedures where there is occupational exposure and that are performed by employees in job classifications in which some employees have occupational exposure;
  • The procedures for evaluating the circumstances surrounding exposure incidents;
  • A schedule of how other provisions of the standard are implemented, including methods of compliance, HIV and HBV research laboratories and production facilities requirements, hepatitis B vaccination and post-exposure evaluation and follow-up, communication of hazards to employees, and recordkeeping;
  • Methods of compliance include:
  • Universal Precautions;
  • Engineering and work practice controls, e.g., safer medical devices, sharps disposal containers, hand hygiene;
  • Personal protective equipment;
  • Housekeeping, including decontamination procedures and removal of regulated waste.
  • Documentation of:

  • the annual consideration and implementation of appropriate commercially available and effective safer medical devices designed to eliminate or minimize occupational exposure, and
  • the solicitation of non-managerial healthcare workers (who are responsible for direct patient care and are potentially exposed to injuries from contaminated sharps) in the identification, evaluation, and selection of effective engineering and work practice controls.
The ECP must be reviewed and updated at least annually, and whenever necessary to reflect new or modified tasks and procedures which affect occupational exposure and to reflect new or revised employee positions with occupational exposure. Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




Are employers responsible for providing sharps containers for employees who are diabetic and need insulin shots in a non-healthcare related facility?


The employer would not be required to provide a sharps container to an employee using insulin syringes for personal therapeutic reasons. To eliminate potential exposures to other workers, however, the employer could require that the employee provide his or her own workplace sharps container. Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




What does OSHA currently accept as "appropriate" disinfectants to prevent the spread of HIV and HBV


OSHA's position is that EPA-registered tuberculocidal disinfectants, diluted bleach solutions and EPA-registered disinfectants that are labeled as effective against both HIV and HBV as well as Sterilants/High-Level Disinfectants cleared by the FDA, meet the requirement in the standard and are "appropriate" disinfectants to clean contaminated surfaces, provided that such surfaces have not become contaminated with agent(s) or volumes of or concentrations of agent(s) for which higher level disinfection is recommended. It is important to emphasize the EPA-approved label section titled "SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR CLEANING AND DECONTAMINATION AGAINST HIV-1 AND HBV OF SURFACES\OBJECTS SOILED WITH BLOOD\BODY FLUIDS." These instructions require:

  • that personal protective equipment be provided for the worker performing the task;
  • that all the blood must be cleaned up thoroughly before applying the disinfectant;
  • that the disposal of the infectious waste be in accordance with federal, state, or local regulations; and
  • that the surface be left wet with the disinfectant for 30 seconds for HIV-1 and for 10 minutes for HBV.
Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




Is a Hepatitis B (HBV) post-vaccination titer required?


29 CFR 1910.1030(f)(1)(ii)(D) takes into consideration the changing nature of medical treatment relating to hepatitis B. OSHA requires use of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) guidelines current at the time of the evaluation or procedure. The most current guidelines regarding hepatitis B is the Updated U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines for the Management of Occupational Exposures to HBV, HCV, and HIV and Recommendations for Postexposure Prophylaxis in MMWR, Vol. 50, No.11, June 29, 2001. The hepatitis B vaccination must be given in the standard dose and through the standard route of administration, as recommended in the guidelines. Employees who have ongoing contact with patients or blood and are at ongoing risk for percutaneous injuries must be tested for antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen, one to two months after the completion of the three-dose vaccination series. Employees who do not respond to the primary vaccination series must be revaccinated with a second three-dose vaccine series and retested. Non-responders to the second series must be medically evaluated. Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




Are workers who administer the vaccines in emergency situations (e.g., in a pandemic response) covered by the Bloodborne Pathogens standard


The Bloodborne Pathogens standard covers all workers in the private sector as well as civilian employees of federal entities. State and local government employees are covered if they are in one of the 25 states and two territories that operate their own OSHA-approved state plans. In the remaining jurisdictions, where Federal OSHA has authority, hospitals operated by state, territorial or local governments are required to provide the protection of the Bloodborne Pathogens standard to their employees with enforcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (42 U.S.C. 1395cc(a)(1)(V) and (b)(4)). Additionally, the CDC recommends that all vaccination clinics comply with the Bloodborne Pathogens standard's provisions. Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




Where can I get information about what is expected of me?


There are several resources available for employers and employees with regard to occupational exposures to blood and OPIM. First is the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030). Also available are CPL 2-2.69 (November 2001) Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens, and many other related documents. This information can be found on OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention Web Page. You may access additional information, such as information from OSHA's Consultation and State Plan State Offices, via OSHA's website or by phone at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a CDC agency, also have documents related to the prevention of occupational exposure to blood and OPIM available. Source: Quick Reference Guide to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard




What are bloodborne pathogens?


Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Needlesticks and other sharps-related injuries may expose workers to bloodborne pathogens. Workers in many occupations, including first responders, housekeeping personnel in some industries, nurses and other healthcare personnel, all may be at risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Source: Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention




What can be done to control exposure to bloodborne pathogens?


In order to reduce or eliminate the hazards of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, an employer must implement an exposure control plan for the worksite with details on employee protection measures. The plan must also describe how an employer will use engineering and work practice controls, personal protective clothing and equipment, employee training, medical surveillance, hepatitis B vaccinations, and other provisions as required by OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030). Engineering controls are the primary means of eliminating or minimizing employee exposure and include the use of safer medical devices, such as needleless devices, shielded needle devices, and plastic capillary tubes. Source: Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention




Which bloodborne pathogens are most concerning in a clinical setting?


HBV, HCV, and HIV are the most commonly transmitted pathogens during patient care. Source: CDC




Infections Transmitted via Sharps Injuries during Patient Care


Source




What is the difference between health care antiseptics and consumer antiseptics?


Health care antiseptics differ from consumer antiseptics in the following ways:

  • They are primarily used by health care professionals in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, outpatient settings and nursing homes.
  • Health care antiseptics are not only used to protect the user but also to protect the patient, whereas consumer antiseptics are generally applied to protect the user.
  • Health care antiseptics are often used more frequently by health care workers than consumers use consumer antiseptics.
Consumer antiseptics differ from healthcare antiseptics in the following ways:
  • Consumer antiseptics are primarily used in the home, schools, daycares or other public settings.
  • Most consumer antiseptics are sold in retail establishments like drug stores and grocery stores.
Source: Topical Antiseptic Products: Hand Sanitizers and Antibacterial Soaps




What are over the counter antiseptics?


Anticeptics are products that prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms. Over-the-counter consumer antiseptics can generally be broken down into two groups: washes and rubs. The definition for each is below. Washes Antiseptic wash products, also known as antibacterial soaps, are intended for use with water and are rinsed off after use, and include hand washes /soaps and body washes. FDA supports the CDC’s recommendation to use plain soap and water to wash your hands. When water is not readily available, a hand sanitizer may be a suitable alternative. Rubs Rubs are leave-on products, or hand “sanitizers,” as well as antiseptic wipes. These products are intended to be used when soap and water are not available, and are left on and not rinsed off with water. Source: Topical Antiseptic Products: Hand Sanitizers and Antibacterial Soaps




Why is the FDA evaluating over the counter antiseptics for use in clinical settings?


FDA compares the risks and the benefits for active ingredients under specified conditions of their use to help determine whether that active ingredient is generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE). Since FDA’s 1994 evaluation of OTC antiseptics, many things have changed, including the frequency of use of some products, new technology that can detect low levels of antiseptics in the body, FDA’s safety standards, and scientific knowledge about the impact of widespread use. FDA’s current effort is designed to ensure that the safety and effectiveness evaluations and determinations for active ingredients used in antiseptics are consistent, up-to-date, and appropriately reflect current scientific knowledge and increasing use patterns. Source: Topical Antiseptic Products: Hand Sanitizers and Antibacterial Soaps




Where can I read more about the FDA evaluation of over the counter anticeptics and why this is being conducted?


You can read more on this subject starting from this link.





Needlestick Injuries

What is the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act?


The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (the Act) (Pub. L. 106-430) was signed into law on November 6, 2000. Because occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens from accidental sharps injuries in healthcare and other occupational settings continues to be a serious problem, Congress felt that a modification to OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard was appropriate (29 CFR 1910.1030) to set forth in greater detail (and make more specific) OSHA's requirement for employers to identify, evaluate, and implement safer medical devices. The Act also mandated additional requirements for maintaining a sharps injury log and for the involvement of non-managerial healthcare workers in evaluating and choosing devices. Source: Needlestick FAQ




How does the "Needlestick Act" apply to OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard?


The Act directed OSHA to revise its Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030). OSHA published the revised standard in the Federal Register on January 18, 2001; it took effect on April 18, 2001. The agency implemented a 90-day outreach and education effort for both OSHA staff and the regulated public before beginning enforcement of the new requirements. Accordingly, OSHA will not enforce the new provisions of the standard (requiring employers to maintain a sharps injury log and to involve non-managerial employees in selecting safer needle devices) until July 17, 2001. (The requirement to implement the use of engineering controls, which includes safer medical devices, has been in effect since 1992). Source: Needlestick FAQ




How does the revision affect states that operate their own federally-approved occupational safety and health programs?


States and territories that operate their own OSHA-approved state programs must adopt the revisions to the bloodborne pathogens standard, or adopt a more stringent amendment to their existing standard, by Oct. 18, 2001. (NOTE: The original adoption date for state plan states was July 18, 2001 (or six months from the date the standard was published in the Federal Register). However, an additional three months was added which coincides with the Federal 90-day education campaign). Source: Needlestick FAQ




Does the standard apply to public sector (State and local government) employees?


Federal OSHA standards do not apply to public sector employees, but the 24 states and two territories that operate OSHA-approved state plans are required to enforce an "at least as effective" standard in the public sector. Source: Needlestick FAQ




Does the "Needlestick Act" apply to me?


OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, including its 2001 revisions, applies to all employers who have employees with reasonably anticipated occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). These employers must implement the applicable requirements set forth in the standard. Some of the new and clarified provisions in the standard apply only to healthcare activities, but some of the provisions, particularly the requirements to update the Exposure Control Plan and to keep a sharps injury log, will apply to non-healthcare as well as healthcare activities. Source: Needlestick FAQ




By what date do we have to implement safer medical devices?


The requirement to implement safer medical devices is not new. However, the revised standard further clarifies what is meant by "engineering controls" in the original 1991 Bloodborne Pathogens standard by adding language to the definition section of the standard that reflects the development and availability of new safer medical devices over the last decade. The 1991 standard states, "engineering and work practice controls shall be used to eliminate or minimize employee exposure." The revision defines Engineering Controls as "controls (e.g., sharps disposal containers, self-sheathing needles, safer medical devices, such as sharps with engineered sharps injury protections and needleless systems) that isolate or remove the bloodborne pathogens hazard from the workplace." Consequently, you should already have safer devices in place. If you have not already evaluated and implemented appropriate and available engineering controls, you must do so now. Also, employees with occupational exposure to blood and OPIM must be trained regarding the proper use of all engineering and work practice controls. Source: Needlestick FAQ




What if I've never had an employee experience a needlestick, do I still need to use safer devices?


Yes. OSHA standards are intended to be implemented as a means to prevent occupational injuries and illnesses. In order to most effectively avoid percutaneous injuries from contaminated sharps, employees must use engineering controls, including safer medical devices. Source: Needlestick FAQ




How many non-managerial employees do I need to include in the process of choosing safer medical devices?


Small medical offices may want to seek input from all employees when making their decisions. Larger facilities are not required to request input from all exposed employees; however, the employees selected should represent the range of exposure situations encountered in the workplace (e.g., pediatrics, emergency department, etc.). The solicitation of employees who have been involved in the input and evaluation process must be documented in the Exposure Control Plan. Source: Needlestick FAQ




Does OSHA have a list of available safer medical devices?


No. OSHA does not approve or endorse any product. It is your responsibility as an employer to determine which engineering controls are appropriate for specific hazards, based on what is appropriate to the specific medical procedures being conducted, what is feasible, and what is commercially available. Source: Needlestick FAQ




What if a safer option is not available for the medical device that I use?


A key element in choosing a safer medical device, other than its appropriateness to the procedure and effectiveness, is its availability on the market. If there is no safer option for a particular medical device used where there is exposure to blood or OPIM, you are not required to use something other than the device that is normally used. During your annual review of devices, you must inquire about new or prospective safer options and document this fact in your written Exposure Control Plan. With increasing medical technology, more devices are becoming available for different procedures. If no engineering control is available, work practice controls shall be used and, if occupational exposure still remains, personal protective equipment must also be used. Source: Needlestick FAQ




What if the safer device that I choose is on back order?


Safety equipment must be available at all times. If for some reason an engineering control is not available (due to supply shortages, back orders, shipping delays, etc.), this must be documented in your Exposure Control Plan. You would then be responsible to implement the chosen control(s) as soon as it becomes available and adjust your exposure control plan to illustrate such. In the meantime, work practice controls must be used and, if occupational exposure still remains, personal protective equipment must also be used.




Do I have to keep a sharps injury log? Does it have to be confidential?


If, as an employer, you are required to maintain a log of occupational injuries and illnesses under 29 CFR 1904, you must also establish and maintain a sharps injury log for recording percutaneous injuries from contaminated sharps. The Sharps Log must contain, at a minimum, information about the injury, the type and brand of device involved in the injury (if known), the department or work area where the exposure occurred, and an explanation of how the incident occurred. The log must be recorded and maintained in such a manner so as to protect the confidentiality of the injured employee (e.g., removal of personal identifiers). Source: Needlestick FAQ




Does the revised Bloodborne Pathogens Standard apply to medical or dental offices that have fewer than 10 employees?


OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard applies to all employers with employees who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM), regardless of how many workers are employed. However, workplaces with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements and are also exempt from recording and maintaining a Sharps Injury Log. (See 29 CFR 1904 for applicability of recordkeeping requirements). All other applicable provisions of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard still apply. Source: Needlestick FAQ




What new information do I need to include in my written Exposure Control Plan? How often to I need to update it?


In addition to what is already required by the 1991 standard, the revised standard requires the documentation of (1) annual consideration and implementation of appropriate engineering controls, and (2) solicitation of non-managerial healthcare workers in evaluating and choosing devices. The plan must be reviewed and updated at least annually.
Source: Needlestick FAQ




Where can I get information about what is expected of me?


There are several resources available for employers and employees with regard to occupational exposures to blood and OPIM. First, of course, is the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030). Also available are "CPL 2-2.69 (November 2001). Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens, and many other related documents. You may access this information, as well as information from OSHA's Consultation and State Plan State Offices, via OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov or by phone at 1-800-321-OSHA. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also have several documents related to the prevention of occupational exposure to blood and OPIM. Source: Needlestick FAQ




What is a Device with Sharps Injury Protection (SIP)?


Devices with SIP features (referred to by OSHA as Sharps with Engineered Sharps Injury Protection – SESIPs), have engineering controls that are built into the product and are designed to prevent sharps injuries. SIPs come in various types – from devices with needles that retract or are covered by a sheath or shield, to needleless systems that do not use a needle or sharp at all. Safer alternatives can be highly effective in substantially reducing injuries and preventing exposures. It is important that SIP features are activated and immediately and safely disposed of in order to protect not only the user from injury, but anyone that may come into contact with that device downstream. Nearly 25% of all injuries occur to non-users of devices, therefore it is critical to not just use devices with SIPs, but to activate its safety feature. (EPINet 2017) Source: STOP STICKS CAMPAIGNDevices with Sharps Injury Protection Features





Marijuana related

Now that marijuana is legal is security an issue?


Although the price of wholesale marijuana is dropping, security still is a serious concern. Your facility should plan for both external and internal threats. Your facility is likely to be a target of theft both from employees internally and externally by outside criminal elements. The facility should have both physical and electronic deterants in place and your business plan must take security into account. We recommend externally the facility should have adequate fencing and gates. These physical barriers must be accompanied by good entry and exit protocols as well as an adequate degree of lighting to and video surveillance to deter potential thieves. Theft is a crime of opportinity, if you make your facility harder to access, it is more likley that potential thieves will look for softer targets. Depending on location and exact situation it may also be necessary to have security guards in addition to remote video surveillance monitoring. Internal security is as important as external security. Theft by employees is unfortunately much more likely and prevalent. It is important to have vidoe surveillance that is clearly visible to internal employees. These feeds need to be monitored by a security officer onsite.




Do we need special eyewear in our grow rooms?


Yes. Marijuana growing sites are usually lit with HPS (High Pressure Sodium), LED (Light Emitting Diode) or MH (Metal-Halide) lighting. Although the MH lamps can be inconvenient and inefficient. With the exception of the LED lamps, all the others fall under the general term High-intensity discharge lamp (HID) which emit a considerable amount of UV and infrared rays. HPS and LPS (Low Pressure Sodium) lamps emit light that needs colour correction too. When working indoor under the constant glare of these grow lights you can damage your eyes due to long exposure to UV and infrared rays. Additionally due to colour balancing your eyes will also get stressed. Therefore it is important to have good eye protection, that is specially designed for this environment. We recommend you look at glasses such as the specialist glasses designed for this purporse by companies like Method Seven.




What specific risks are faced by workers in the Marijuana and Canabis industry?


Employees in this industry face the same common risks faced by other workers in similar agricultural and manufacturing settings. This is the fundamental reason why Cal/OSHA decided not to create additional legal requirement specific to the industry. You can use the following outline as a general guide. Outdoor harvesting employees: These workers face risks such as

  • Heat exposure illness
  • Pesticides exposure
  • Field sanitation issues
  • Ergonomic problems due to the repetitive motions made while trimming
Indoors harvesting employees: These harvesting workers face a different set of risks to their outdoor counterparts due to the enclosed nature of facility their work in. These risks include but are not limited to:
  • Overexposure to carbon dioxide
  • Overexposure to carbon monoxide
  • Injuries caused by improperly wired equipment or damaged electrical plugs, outlets wiring or equipement
  • Overexposure to UV light
  • Eye stress due to lighting colour imbalances due to artificial lighting
  • Ergonomic problems due to the repetitive motions made while trimming
Manufacturing employees:
  • Exposure to flammable and chemical hazards
  • Burning, scalding, trips, falls,
  • Dangers posed by the use of machinery
Customer service employees: Customer facing employees in the industry essentially face hazards related to theft and violence due to the prevalence of cash transactions.





HIPPA

Who must comply with HIPAA privacy standards?


The HIPAA, Privacy Rule covers:

  • Health plans
  • Health care clearinghouses
  • Health care providers who conduct certain financial and administrative transactions electronically. These electronic transactions are those for which standards have been adopted by the Secretary under HIPAA, such as electronic billing and fund transfers.
These entities, collectively referred to as “covered entities”, are bound by the privacy standards even if they contract with other entities, referred to as “business associates” to perform some of their essential functions. This regulation does not authorize the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to regulate other types of private businesses or public agencies. Therefore, the HHS does not have the authority to regulate:
  • Employers
  • Life insurance Companies
  • Public Agencies that deliver social security or welfare benefits




Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule prohibit a health care provider to disclose protected health information (PHI) about a student to a school nurse or physician?


No it does not. The HIPAA Privacy Rule allows covered health care providers to disclose PHI about students to school nurses, physicians, or other health care providers for treatment purposes, without the authorization of the student or student’s parent.




Can a primary care physician share PHI with a school nurse?


The student’s primary care physician may discuss the student’s medication and other health care needs with a school nurse who will administer the student’s medication and provide care to the student while the student is at school.




Can a health care provider share immunization records with a school?


Under 45 CFR 164.512(b)(1)(vi) a covered health care provider may disclose proof of a student's immunizations directly to a school nurse or other person designated by the school to receive immunization records if the school is required by State or other law to have such proof prior to admitting the student, and a parent, guardian, or other person acting in loco parentis has agreed to the disclosure. A more detailed discussion can be found here.




Can a health care provider disclose proof of immunization to a school that is not subject to a school entry law with respect to the information?


No, 45 CFR 164.512(b)(1)(vi) of the Privacy Rule permits the disclosure of proof of immunization about a student or prospective student only to a school that is required by State or other law to have such information prior to admitting the student. In the limited case where a school is not subject to a school entry law but seeks proof of immunization of students, a covered health care provider may either provide the proof of immunization to the parent of the student (or student, if applicable) to give to the school, or obtain the parent’s (or student’s, if applicable) written authorization to provide the requested information directly to the school. A more detailed discussion can be found here.




What is encryption?


Encryption is a method by which an item in clear text is encoded so that it can not be read without knowledge of a shared secret between the parties sharing the encoded information.




Is a health information organization (HIO) covered by the HIPAA Privacy Rule?


It depends on whether the HIO performs functions that cause it to require access to PHI. If the HIO does not need or have access to any PHI to perform its function then it is not covered by HIPAA. If the HIO performs functions that require it to have access to PHI then its role and relationship will change to that of a " business associate" under the Privacy Rule. In this case the HIO is a HIPAA covered entities and therefore, must enter into contracts or other agreements with their business associates that require the business associates to safeguard and appropriately protect the privacy of protected health information.




How does HIPAA definition of a "business associate"?


A “business associate” is a person or entity that performs certain functions or activities that involve the use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI) on behalf of, or provides services to, a covered entity. See the definition of “business associate” at 45 CFR 160.103.




What is a Health Information Organization (HIO)?


Health information organizations (HIO) are U.S. government-led non-profit health organizations that provide information about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 as it pertains to electronic health records (EHRs) development for incentive payments. These organizations focus on the importance of and instruction for interoperability and the exchange of EHRs among medical facilities as per the ARRA. HIOs can function at the federal, state and local level.




Does the Privacy rule apply to elementary and secondary schools?


Elementary and secondary schools maintain any health information only on students in records that are by definition "educational records" under FERPA. These records are subject to the FERPA privacy requirements, including the requirement to obtain parental consent ( 34 CFR § 99.30) in order to disclose to Medicaid billing information about a service provided to a student.




How does the HIPAA Privacy Rule effect a doctor's ability to discuss a patients health condition or anything involving the patients PHI with family, friends or concerned parties?


It is important to understand that the HIPAA Privacy Rule was put in place to help protect the Privacy of the patient. The intent is not to create friction in the flow of information that will benefit the patient. The Privacy Rule expressly permits a covered entity to use Professional Judgment and Experience with Common Practice to make reasonable inferences about the patient’s best interests in allowing another person to act on behalf of the patient to pick up a filled prescription, medical supplies, X-rays, or other similar forms of protected health information. For example, when a person comes to a pharmacy requesting to pick up a prescription on behalf of an individual he identifies by name, a pharmacist, based on professional judgment and experience with common practice, may allow the person to do so.





Sexual Harassment

What is sexual harassment?


State regulations define sexual harassment as unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This definition includes many forms of offensive behavior and includes gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the harasser. The following is a partial list of prohibited behavior:

  • Visual conduct:
    • Leering
    • Making sexual gestures
    • Displaying of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons or posters.
  • Verbal conduct:
    • Making or using derogatory comments
    • Epithets, slurs and jokes.
    • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual.
  • Physical conduct:
    • Touching
    • Assault
    • Impeding or blocking movements
  • Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors
  • Making or threatening retaliatory action after receiving a negative response to sexual advances.




Which employers have to provide training?


By January 1, 2020, all employers having five or more employees must provide this training to all their employees, irrespective of whether they are permanent, part-time or contract employees.




Which employees need training?


Under the new California legislation All supervisory employees:

  • Must receive at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment.
All other employees:
  • At least one hour of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment
This training must be provided to employees within six (6) months of their assumption of a position and the training must be provided once every two (2) years.




California has a legal requirement to provide sexual harassment training every two years. Should we do it more often?


Given the subjective nature of sexual harassment and how easily it can happen, the devastaing effects it has on the harassment subject, the risk this has for the business, the impact it has on employee moral and general good will towards the employer. We suggest that this training be conducted annually to all employees to ensure that they understand that what might be a passing comment or a joke, can cause serious harm to have devastating effects.




What training do employers have to provide?


Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training in a classroom setting, through interactive E-learning, or through a live webinar. E-learning training must provide instructions on how to contact a trainer who can answer questions within two business days. Any training must explain:

  • The definition of sexual harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  • The statutes and case-law prohibiting and preventing sexual harassment;
  • The types of conduct that can be sexual harassment;
  • The remedies available for victims of sexual harassment;
  • Strategies to prevent sexual harassment;
  • Supervisors’ obligation to report harassment;
  • Practical examples of harassment;
  • The limited confidentiality of the complaint process;
  • Resources for victims of sexual harassment, including to whom they should report it;
  • How employers must correct harassing behavior;
  • What to do if a supervisor is personally accused of harassment;
  • The elements of an effective anti-harassment policy and how to use it;
  • “Abusive conduct” under Government Code section 12950.1, subdivision (g)(2).
  • Discuss harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, which shall include practical examples inclusive of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
Finally, any training must include questions that assess learning, skill-building activities to assess understanding and application of content, and hypothetical scenarios about harassment with discussion questions.




Who is considered a supervisor?


A supervisor is anyone with authority to hire, fire, assign, transfer, discipline, or reward other employees. A supervisor is also anyone with the authority to effectively recommend (but not necessarily take) these actions if exercising that authority requires the use of independent judgment.




Who can provide sexual harassment prevention training?


There are three types of qualified trainers:

  1. Attorneys who have been members of the bar of any state for at least two years and whose practice includes employment law under the Fair Employment and Housing Act or Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  2. Human resource professionals or harassment prevention consultants with at least two years of practical experience in:
    • Designing or conducting training on discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment prevention;
    • Responding to sexual harassment or other discrimination complaints;
    • Investigating sexual harassment complaints; or
    • Advising employers or employees about discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment prevention.
  3. Law school, college, or university instructors with a post-graduate degree or California teaching credential and either 20 hours of instruction about employment law under the FEHA or Title VII.
Neither DFEH nor any other state agency issues licenses or certificates validating a person’s qualifications to teach sexual harassment prevention training classes.




What should I do if I experience a sexual assault, sexual violence at work?


These are crimial acts and you should immediately contact law enforcement.




How are my interns affected by sexual harassment legislation?


California law prohibits both employers and employees from sexually harassing any worker, employee, applicant, volunteer, independent contractor, or unpaid intern. Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (j)(1) [“For an employer, labor organization, employment agency, apprenticeship training program or any training program leading to employment, or any other person, because of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status, to harass an employee, an applicant, an unpaid intern or volunteer, or a person providing services pursuant to a contract. “].




What is the difference between "motive" and "action" as applied to sexual harassment?


Negative, sarcastic, exaggerated or generally inappropriate, or unwanted conduct directed at a worker based on:

  • Sex,
  • Gender, gender identity, gender expression,
  • Marital status,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • Pregnancy, pregnancy-related or childbirth medical conditions
are all examples of " motive". Unfortunately, there are no clear definitions for what "actions" constitute harassment. Courts have described the concept using very general terms. In these definitions, to clarify matters, courts have separated sexual harassment claims into two distinct categories:
  • Hostile work environment sexual harassment
  • Quid pro quo sexual harassment
It is worth baring in mind that in many cases both actions take place in some way and therefore the terms are legally definitive.




What is quid pro quo sexual harassment?


This latin term means "this for that" and as the phrase implies, this type of harassment occurs when there is an explicit or implied demand for a sexual favor in exchange for a specific job benefit. These cases are not limited to specifically asking for a sexual favour. Unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate discussions of graphic sexual acts, or commentary on the employee’s body and the sexual uses to which it could be put constitute quid pro quo sexual harassment as long as a tangible employment action resulted from a refusal to submit to a supervisor’s sexual demands. Clearly this is the most serious violation of the superisory trust in the workplace and highly likely to bring about some form of legal action.




What is a Hostile Work Environment?


This constitutes conduct that is so pervasive that an abusive work environment is created. This type of harassment does not have to be motivated by sexual desire to be unlawful. However the improper conduct must be severe, frequent, or both. For this type of conduct to violate the law it has to be both objectively hostile and/or abusive. A few annoying or mildly offensive comments are not enough. A person can not claim sexual harassment if the conduct did not effect their sense of well being, their ability to conduct their job or if they invited the behaviour. The activity must also subjectively offend, humiliate, or distress the victim to be considered sexual harassment.




How does a court decide if a work environment is hostile?


California courts use several factors to determine whether the work environment is sufficiently hostile or abusive, these usually include try to measure the following in relation to the conduct under consideration

  • Severity
  • Frequency
  • Context of the Conduct
How significance of each measure depends heavily on the facts of the specific case. It is important to note that to be able to prove that the victum has suffered harm and harassment they must be able to demonstrate that the conducted activity:
  • Disturbed their emotional tranquility at the workplace
  • Affected thier ability to conduct their job as normal
  • Distubed thier sense of self and well being




Sexual harassment is only conducted by men?


The law is gender neutral and protects men and women equally. Furthermore the law also protects a person that does not necessarily identifies as a man or woman i.e. other gender identification. A women can be considered the perpetrator of sexual harassment just as much as a man. Sexual harassment applies equally whether the aggressor is of a different or the same gender as the victim.




How does the law define sexual harassment?


Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. Briefly, sexual harassment refers to both unwelcome sexual advances, or other visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature and actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment based on an employee’s sex. Under California law, the offensive conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire, but may be based upon an employee’s actual or perceived sex or gender-identity, actual or perceived sexual orientation, and/or pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This definition includes many forms of offensive behavior and includes gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the harasser, and actions that subject co-workers to a hostile work environment. Source: State of California Department of Justice





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