The bloodborne pathogens standard has two classifications for laboratories: (1) a clinical laboratory is a workplace where diagnostic or other screening procedures are performed on blood or other potentially infectious materials, and (2) a research laboratory is a laboratory producing or using research-laboratory-scale amounts of HIV or HBV.
"Clinical (or diagnostic) laboratories" are hospital labs, free-standing clinical or diagnostic labs, labs in dental or medical offices, blood and plasma center labs, dental labs, and laboratories preparing reagents from human blood or blood components. Laboratories that conduct research using blood or blood components but do not produce or use concentrated amounts of HIV or HBV, would also be considered a clinical (or diagnostic) laboratory.
"Research laboratories" means a laboratory producing or using research-laboratory scale amounts. Research laboratories may produce high concentrations of HIV or HBV but not in the volume found in the production facilities. Production facilities may produce high volumes of HIV or HBV, but not high concentrations of the viruses.
Clinical and diagnostic laboratories must follow the general provisions of the bloodborne pathogens standard, including but not limited to, needlestick and sharps safety, engineering controls, work practice controls, universal precautions, and the use of personal protective equipment.
Additional laboratory safe practices include:
In addition to the general provisions of the bloodborne pathogens standard, research laboratories must also follow additional guidelines established by section 29 CFR 1910.1030(e) of the standard.
Engineering controls and work practices:
Needlestick or sharps safety:
Ben is a medical laboratory technician working in a local hospital. Before each shift, Ben buys a large cup of coffee from the hospital food court. While working, Ben keeps his cup of coffee on a table in the lab away from his work station.
Is Ben following the bloodborne pathogens standard?
No. The standard clearly states that drinks cannot be kept in a work area where there is reasonable exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. Food and drink must be kept in designated areas completely free of reasonable exposure. One concern OSHA has expressed with keeping drinks in a work area is the potential for contaminating the drink container, potentially resulting in an indirect exposure.
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