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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. If an employee has an adverse reaction to a smallpox vaccination, is it recordable under OSHA's recordkeeping rule?

If an employee has an adverse reaction to a smallpox vaccination, the reaction is recordable if it is work related (see 29 CFR 1904.5) and meets the general recording criteria contained in 29 CFR 1904.7. A reaction caused by a smallpox vaccination is work related if the vaccination was necessary to enable the employee to perform his or her work duties. Such a reaction is work-related even though the employee was not required to receive it, if the vaccine was provided by the employer to protect the employee against exposure to smallpox in the work environment. For example, if a health care employer establishes a program to vaccinate employees who may be involved in treating people suffering from the effects of a smallpox outbreak, reactions to the vaccine would be work related. The same principle applies to adverse reactions among emergency response workers whose duties may cause them to be exposed to smallpox. The vaccinations in this circumstance are similar to inoculations given to employees to immunize them from diseases to which they may be exposed to in the course of work-related overseas travel.

2. Do I need to complete the OSHA injury and illness forms if an employee sustains a needlestick while administering smallpox vaccinations?

Exposure incidents such as needlesticks or sharps injuries that occur to employees administering smallpox vaccinations are covered under 29 CFR 1904 (Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses). This regulation requires employers to complete OSHA forms 300 and 301, a privacy case list, and an annual summary. If you are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, you must record all work-related needlestick injuries and cuts from sharp objects that are contaminated with another person's blood or other potentially infectious material. You must enter the case on the OSHA 300 Log as an injury. To protect the employee's privacy, you must not enter the employee's name on the OSHA 300 Log. In place of the name, enter "privacy concern case."

3. May I use the OSHA 300 Log to meet the Bloodborne Pathogen standard's requirement for a sharps injury log in 29 CFR 1910.1030?

Yes, provided that you:

1. Enter the type and brand of the device causing the sharps injury on the OSHA 300 Log, and

2. Separate sharps injuries from other types of work-related injuries and illnesses in your records or record them so that sharps injuries can be easily separated.


4. How do these recordkeeping requirements apply to clinics?

Adverse reactions to work-related smallpox vaccination and exposure incidents, such as needlestick and sharps injuries, involving employees of clinics are recordable unless the clinic is in an industry specifically listed in 29 CFR 1904.2 as partially exempt from recordkeeping requirements. If the clinic is in one of the listed partially exempt industries, it is not required to keep the OSHA log and other records required by 29 CFR 1904 unless the government specifically asks it to do so. As long as the clinic does not have to keep the OSHA log, it also does not have to keep the sharps injury log required under section 29 CFR 1910.1030(h)(5)(ii) of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. This applies to clinics covered by federal OSHA and to clinics in most State plan States.

However, Minnesota, Washington, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico operate safety and health programs that do not contain partial exemptions for some Group 800 industries, as section 29 CFR 1904.2 of the federal recordkeeping rule does. In these jurisdictions, clinics that would be partially exempt under the federal recordkeeping rule must keep the OSHA log and other records required by 29 CFR 1904, and the sharps injury log required by the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.


5. How do these requirements apply to hospitals?

All private hospitals and all state and local hospitals operated by governments in State plan States must keep OSHA injury and illness records and comply with 29 CFR 1910.1030(h)(5)(ii) which requires a sharps injury log.

6. How do these requirements apply to contractors?

Personnel service industry employers who provide, for example, contract nursing staff, must keep OSHA injury and illness records and comply with 29 CFR 1910.1030(h)(5)(ii), which requires a sharps injury log unless they:
1. Meet the requirement under section 29 CFR 1904.1 for a partial exemption because they had 10 or fewer employees during the last calendar year, or

2. Do not provide day-to-day supervision of their employees under 29 CFR 1904.31(b)(2).
7. How do these requirements apply to federal agencies?

Federal agencies who keep records under 29 CFR 1960 should consult their agency's safety and health representative for guidance on recordkeeping requirements for exposure incidents.

8. What if an employee administering smallpox vaccinations is splashed or exposed to blood or other potentially infectious material without being cut or scratched? Do I need to record this incident?

29 CFR 1904.8(b)(4) says you need to record such an incident on the OSHA Injury and Illness Log if:

It results in the diagnosis of a bloodborne illness (HIV, Hepatitis B or C)

OR

It results in one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7:
  • Death
  • Days away from work
  • Restricted work or transfer to another job
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Loss of consciousness
  • A significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional
9. What if the employee is splashed by vaccine material?

You need to record such an incident on the OSHA injury and illness log if the vaccine causes an injury or illness that results in one or more of the general recording criteria under 29 CFR 1904.7.