The tasks an OSHA standard would address might or might not be direct patient care, and examples include conducting autopsies and medical waste disposal.

Two OSHA Meetings to Discuss Infectious Agents Standard

The July 29 meetings in Washington, D.C., will give a small number of stakeholders the opportunity to discuss what should be included in a standard controlling workers' exposures during tasks such as housekeeping, medical waste disposal, repairing medical equipment, and conducting autopsies.

OSHA announced it will hold two stakeholders July 29 to hear from stakeholders as it considers whether to develop a standard meant to control workers' exposures to infectious agents. The tasks it would address might or might not be direct patient care, and the announcement listed examples: housekeeping, food delivery, facility maintenance; handling, transporting, receiving, or processing infectious items or wastes; maintaining, servicing or repairing medical equipment that is contaminated with infectious agents; conducting autopsies; performing mortuary services; and performing tasks in laboratories that result in occupational exposure.

The meetings will take place from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The deadline to confirm registration is July 22, and OSHA said only about 30 participants will be allowed in each meeting. OSHA staffers will be present to take part, and Eastern Research Group, Inc. of Lexington, Mass. will manage logistics for the meetings, provide a facilitator, and compile notes summarizing the discussion that will be posted in the docket for the Infectious Diseases Request for Information (Docket ID: OSHA-2010-0003, www.regulations.gov).

OSHA published the request for information in May 2010 and received more than 200 comments were received in response. It said these meetings will center on such major issues as whether and to what extent an OSHA standard on occupational exposure to infectious diseases should apply in settings where workers provide direct patient care, as well as, settings where workers have occupational exposure even though they don't provide direct patient care; the advantages and disadvantages of using a program standard to limit occupational exposure to infectious diseases; the advantages and disadvantages of taking other approaches to organizing a prospective standard; and whether a standard should require every employer to develop a written worker infection control plan.

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