inside a prison

NIOSH Lists Best BBP Practices for Correctional Health Workers

The agency posted the information Tuesday to help this group of workers and their managers address bloodborne pathogens exposures.

Bloodborne diseases are a greater problem for correctional health care workers than for the general population of health workers because of their nature of their work settings, according to NIOSH, because jails and prisons can be unpredictable work settings, security issues outweigh infection control, and inmates may have a higher rate of bloodborne diseases. The agency posted exposure control information Tuesday for correctional health workers and their managers.

NIOSH said its researchers visited jails and prisons and studied the challenges -- bites or stabbings during an inmate assault, blood splashes in the face, etc. -- and professional organizations and other government agencies helped to identify problems in correctional health care. This work yielded the work practices and some common areas for improvement the agency has posted.

Managers are urged to support their workers in these ways to help lower their chance of exposure:

  • As a manager or administrator, you must provide them with an updated and site-specific Exposure Control Plan. The plan must address proper training, work practices, equipment, and supplies for protection against exposures to blood and other body fluids.
  • As a manager or administrator, you should have a system in place to promote reporting, so that your workers will more likely report exposures to blood and other body fluids.
  • As a manager or administrator, you must ensure the use of safe work practices.

Workers are urged to be vaccinated against hepatitis B, use appropriate PPE (aprons, faceshields, gloves, goggles, gowns), handle sharps carefully and correctly, wash hands properly, and disinfect contaminated surfaces thoroughly.

The guidance includes links to OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard, CDC's Guidelines for the Management of Health-Care Worker Exposure to HIV and Recommendations for Postexposure prophylaxis, and OSHA's Model Plans and Programs for the BBP and Hazard Communications standards.

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