Studies as recently as 2009, including by CDC, found weaknesses in respiratory, hand hygiene, PPE, staff training, and written procedure guidelines.

OSHA Seeks Data on Health Care Infectious Agents

Requesting comments by Aug. 4, the agency noted, "The lack of adherence to voluntary infection control procedures is of particular interest to OSHA."

OSHA published a request for data about infectious diseases being transmitted to patients and workers in health care settings because some studies indicate voluntary infection control measures aren't being faithfully followed. "Another concern is the movement of healthcare delivery from the traditional hospital setting, with its greater infrastructure and resources to effectively implement infection control measures, into more diverse and smaller workplace settings with less infrastructure and fewer resources, but with an expanding worker population," the agency's request stated.

OSHA wants responses by Aug. 4 and said it wants to know the current extent of occupationally acquired infectious diseases in health care settings (including school and correctional facility clinics) and which risk prevention strategies are in use. The information being sought includes: types of facilities and workers incurring this risk; successful employer infection control programs; control methodologies being utilized (including engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and the use of appropriate PPE); medical surveillance programs; and training programs.

As of 2008, 3.6 million health care workers (HCWs, defined as health care professionals, technicians, and healthcare support workers, including those not directly providing patient care such as maintenance or laundry workers) were employed in hospitals and 7.3 million were employed outside hospitals -- including 2.1 million of the latter category who work for establishments not defined as part of the health care sector, according to the request, which added, "The increasing number of HCWs outside of hospital settings who are exposed to occupational injuries and illnesses likely has implications for risk management."

Studies as recently as 2009, including by CDC, found weaknesses in respiratory, hand hygiene, PPE, staff training, and written procedure guidelines.

Send comments including OSHA's name and OSHA Docket No. OSHA-2010-0003 to http://www.regulations.gov.

Cal/OSHA's new standard on aerosol transmissible diseases covers airborne and droplet transmissible infectious diseases, but not contact transmissible diseases. OSHA asked whether it, too, should focus on only droplet and airborne transmission or also should include contact transmissible diseases.

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