Biosafety Issues in Focus in AIHce Conference

For the first time, U.S. physicians' rates of suffering needlesticks and sharps injuries exceeded nurses' rates during 2017, an International Safety Center presenter said during a "Biosafety Issues in IH" session at the AIHce EXP 2019 conference.

MINNEAPOLIS -- A "Biosafety Issues in IH" session May 21 at the AIHce EXP 2019 conference identified several important issues facing health care workers and also pathology and mortuary workers.

For the first time, U.S. physicians' rates of suffering needlesticks and sharps injuries exceeded nurses' rates during 2017, Amber Mitchell, DrPH, MPH, of the International Safety Center, said during the session as she shared summary surveillance data from EPINet -- the Exposure Prevention Information Network surveillance system, a free resource that allows health care facilities to track occupational sharps injuries and blood and body fluid incidents. The number of needlestick injuries in operating rooms exceeded the number that occurred in patient examination rooms during 2017, she explained, citing increasing pressure on physicians to see more patients and the fact that more suturing is now done in operating rooms than in the past.

Both the sharps injury rate and the needlesticks rate increased from 2014 to 2017, she said. According to the data, only 31.4 percent of the workers who sustained a sharps injury in 2017 reported that they were using a sharp with a safety device when they were injured, and most of those who were using such a sharp reported they had not activated the safety device at the time, Mitchell said.

She reported that blood and body fluid exposures also are rising, and more than 50 percent of those exposures are to the workers' eyes. Only 3 percent of the health care workers who had an eye exposure said they were wearing any type of eye protection at all, she said.

Another presenter in the session, Aurora Le, MPH, CSP, an adjunct professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health, shared results from a survey of medical examiner and coroner personnel in larger jurisdictions on how they handle highly infectious remains. Pathology and mortuary workers are at elevated risk of occupational exposures, but they often are overlooked for training, resources, and education and may lack knowledge about modes of transmission, Le explained. The survey respondents reported their facilities had inadequate biosafety structures in place, there is a lack of appropriate training and continuing education for their staffs, and there are critical shortages of forensic pathologists, she said.

In the email survey conducted from Dec. 5, 2017 to Feb. 6, 2018, 52 percent of responding medical examiners said they wear N95 respirators during routine autopsies -- and this rose only to 68 percent who wear them for suspected or confirmed highly infectious remains. Powered air-purifying respirator use rose only by 30 percent for confirmed cases, and faceshield use increased from 59 percent to only 76 percent, Le said. One factor some of them cited is being very busy because of the opioids crisis, she added.

Le recommended implementing an all-hazards approach to protect medical examiner and coroner personnel; increasing coordination among public health, local and state health departments, funeral homes, crematories, and waste handling companies; and standardizing policies, education, and training guidelines. "There is obviously room for improvement in standard operating procedures and standard operating guidelines," she said.

Product Showcase

  • Kestrel 5400 Heat Stress Tracker WBGT Monitoring for Workplace Safety

    Ensure safety with the Kestrel® 5400 Heat Stress Tracker, the go-to choice for safety professionals and endorsed by the Heat Safety & Performance Coalition. This robust, waterless WBGT meter is ideal for both indoor and outdoor environments, offering advanced monitoring and data logging essential for OSHA compliance. It features pre-programmed ACGIH guidelines and alert settings to quickly signal critical conditions. Integrated with the cloud-based Ambient Weather Network, the 5400 allows managers to view, track, and log job site conditions remotely, ensuring constant awareness of potential hazards. Its capability for real-time mobile alerts and remote data access promotes proactive safety management and workplace protection, solidifying its role as a crucial tool in industrial hygiene. Read More

  • Magid® D-ROC® GPD412 21G Ultra-Thin Polyurethane Palm Coated Work Gloves

    Magid’s 21G line is more than just a 21-gauge glove, it’s a revolutionary knitting technology paired with an advanced selection of innovative fibers to create the ultimate in lightweight cut protection. The latest offering in our 21G line provides ANSI A4 cut resistance with unparalleled dexterity and extreme comfort that no other 21-gauge glove on the market can offer! Read More

  • Full Line of Defense Against Combustible Dust Nilfisk

    Nilfisk provides a comprehensive range of industrial vacuums meticulously crafted to adhere to NFPA 652 housekeeping standards, essential for gathering combustible dust in Class I, Group D, and Class II, Groups E, F & G environments or non-classified settings. Our pneumatic vacuums are meticulously engineered to fulfill safety criteria for deployment in hazardous surroundings. Leveraging advanced filtration technology, Nilfisk ensures the secure capture of combustible materials scattered throughout your facility, ranging from fuels, solvents, and metal dust to flour, sugar, and pharmaceutical powders. Read More

Featured

Webinars