Recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Red Cross renewed their alliance for another five years. The purpose of the alliance is to raise awareness concerning incidents that occur in the workplace as well as protecting workers from exposure to hazardous substances. The organizations have found their ten-year history of alliance to be successful in their joint endeavors of promoting health and safety in the workplace.
One area that the Red Cross has been an extremely valuable resource to OSHA is in providing information concerning the transmission of disease in the workplace and bloodborne pathogens. It has been estimated by the Center for Disease Control that 5.6 million workers in health care industry and related occupations are at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens containing HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Such pathogens may be contained in biohazardous materials such as human blood, human blood components, or products that are made from human blood. A common way for exposure to occur is through experiencing a needle stick or body fluid exposure.
Time can be of the essence if exposed to the blood or bodily fluids of another to prevent the possibility of contracting a disease. The New York State Department of Health suggests the following procedures if you have been exposed:
- Immediately report the incident to your supervisor
- Cleanse the area that was exposed
- Refer the employee’s immunization history, medically evaluate the employee and administer care
- Appropriately document the incident
- Follow appropriate procedures to have the patient or source tested for HIV and hepatitis once consent has been obtained
- Test the exposed employee for HIV and hepatitis
The New York State Department of Health also advises in situations such as exposure to bloodborne pathogens that a Workers’ Compensation claim should be initiated. The attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP have experience representing clients before Workers’ Compensation boards throughout New York City and Long Island, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.