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Infectious Diseases Rulemaking

Infectious Diseases Rulemaking

Introduction

The healthcare and social assistance sector is among the largest of the industrial sectors in the U.S. As of 2013, there were 18.6 million employees in this sector, 11.7 million of those are classified as healthcare workers (HCWs).  HCWs work in a great variety of settings.  A large proportion of these HCWs provide direct patient care (i.e., they provide healthcare services with face-to-face or hands-on contact with patients) and have occupational exposure to infectious agents during the performance of their duties.  Depending on the workplace setting and the job  tasks, workers performing ancillary tasks (e.g., laboratorians, medical examiners, medical waste handlers) also have occupational exposure to infectious agents.

Employees in health care and other high-risk environments face long-standing infectious disease hazards such as TB, influenza and MRSA, as well as new and emerging infectious disease threats. OSHA is considering the need for a standard to ensure that employers establish a comprehensive infection control program and control measures to protect employees from exposures to infectious agents that can cause significant disease. Although the Bloodborne Pathogens standard has been very effective in protecting workers, it does not address infectious diseases transmitted by other routes (e.g., contact, droplet and airborne). In addition, OSHA believes that a standard is needed because transmission-based infection control guidelines, though readily available, are not consistently followed.

The Agency has thus far published an Infectious Diseases Request for Information (RFI), held stakeholder meetings, conducted site visits, and completed the SBREFA process. Feedback from these sources helped the Agency to further refine its development of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding an Infectious Diseases standard that is scheduled for publication in October, 2017.

Infectious Diseases Background Resources

OSHA's Involvement in Protecting Workers from Infectious Diseases

  • OSHA promulgated the Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) to protect workers from occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens (e.g., Hepatitis B, HIV)
  • The Bloodborne Pathogens standard was revised  in response to the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, Pub. L. 106–430.
  • TB compliance directive, "Enforcement Procedures and Scheduling for Occupational Exposure to Tuberculosis" (CPL 02-02-078).

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