What to do in case of a needlestick

OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard provides clear guidance on what to do in the event of an accidental “sharps” (often needlesticks) exposure. The standard requires important steps immediately:

1 Evaluate the wound to determine the severity. Does it need medical attention?

2 If it’s determined that you need medical attention, go get it.

  • Take a copy of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard with you in case the physician does not have one.
  • Your office’s Exposure Control Plan should include information about the physician or urgent care you should visit. You can also make an appointment with your own physician. You will need to take workers’ compensation insurance information with you if prior arrangements have not been made.
  • There should be contact information for the physician or urgent care located next to the phones in the office. This is also required as part of the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.
  1. Work with your office’s OSHA coordinator to file an incident report that provides details of the injury.
  • OSHA form 301A asks for details about the incident such as date, time, how the injury occurred, what or if treatment was given, and any follow-up plans.
  • Additionally, a sharps injury log OSHA 300 logs the same details minus employee name and personal information. This should be placed in the office’s OSHA binder.
  • A copy of the incident report should be placed in your confidential employee medical record and kept for 30 years past employment.
  1. If possible, identify the source patient unless your employer can establish that identification is infeasible or prohibited by state or local law. Information for source patient identification can be found in most state dental practice acts.
  • If allowed by state law, the source individual’s blood should be tested as soon as feasible and after consent is obtained in order to determine HBV and HIV infectivity.
  • If consent is not obtained, the employer should establish that legally required consent cannot be obtained.
  • When the source individual’s consent is not required by law, the source individual’s blood, if available, should be tested and the results documented.
  • If the source patient declares their medical status as HIV or HBV, then that patient does not need to be tested.
  • Making sure to follow all HIPAA guidelines concerning patient privacy, you have the right to know the source patient’s test results in order to take appropriate action.
  • You have the right to have a blood collection but can hold off on HIV/HBV testing for up to 90 days.
  • Finally, you are afforded the opportunity to seek follow-up medical care and counseling.

Know and use work practice controls for needle recapping with the scoop method or recapping devices. As part of sharps injury protection, OSHA requires evaluation of technology for safer recapping, or needle removal systems to be conducted annually as part of Exposure Control Plan updates.

There have been previous studies about how well widely available masks protect wearers from the novel coronavirus. The general findings have been that thick fabric and a tight fit make for a more effective mask regardless of whether it is handmade or store-bought.

And the ASTM’s goal is in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) previous statements that masks for the general public primarily should reduce the number of particles emanating from the user but also should provide the wearer with some protection against inhalation of these particles.

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Beyond just general recommendations, the ASTM working group said that a national standard that specifies mask design and performance characteristics could help provide a “level playing field” for consumers as they try to find a suitable face covering. There is no official timeline for the development of the standard.

Making sure mask manufacturers abide by some future standard and accurately identify how well their masks protect against the novel coronavirus, however, is another matter.

The ASTM does not enforce its standards. For mask producers to be held legally responsible for meeting the standard, the appropriate governmental agencies must give them weight by including them in applicable codes, laws or regulations. Then, just as with OSHA standards and consumer protection laws, mask producers could be forced to accurately report how well their products protect the public.

In the construction industry, face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are recommended and even required on most jobsites and 67% of respondents to a recent Construction Dive survey said that they are an important means of protection.