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Protecting yourself from bloodborne diseases, Part 2
What your school must do
In our Nov. 22 issue, we introduced the laws and some initial steps you need to take in the event you are exposed to human blood or body fluids. Here are the steps that your school should take to safeguard staff and students:
Appoint a site employee safety administrator
The principal is responsible for the implementation of a bloodborne pathogens program that includes a site-specific Exposure Control Plan. The principal should appoint an administrative-level person, called the site employee safety administrator (or SESA), to coordinate the school’s program.
Determine at-risk (covered) employees
The site employee safety administrator must identify all employees whose work is likely to involve routine contact with blood or other potentially infectious body fluids.
Complete the DOE’s Exposure Control Plan
The site employee safety administrator must adapt the generic Department of Education Exposure Control Plan to meet the specific needs of the site or school. The site employee safety administrator’s name and location must be posted on the Health and Safety bulletin board. The UFT recommends that the School Safety Plan refer to this information as well.
Train at-risk employees
All at-risk employees must receive annual training either via Web seminars or by attending live sessions. New employees must also receive training within 10 days upon being given an assignment that puts them at risk.
Offer hepatitis B vaccination
At-risk employees must be offered the hepatitis B vaccine after completing training and within 10 days of receiving an assignment. The vaccine should be administered during work hours at no charge.
Even if at-risk employees at first decline the hepatitis B vaccine, they can ask for it again at any time if they change their minds. New at-risk employees must be offered the vaccine within 10 days of their assignment.
Provide personal protective equipment
Appropriate personal protective equipment for the task must be provided to at-risk employees at no cost. For example, if there is the potential for blood or body fluids to contact one’s body or clothing during diapering or toileting activities, the employee should wear disposable aprons, sleeves and gloves.
Have a cleaning and disinfection program
The site employee safety administrator for your school must develop a cleaning schedule, which must be posted in the medical office and changing rooms. All surfaces contaminated with blood and body fluids must be decontaminated with a bleach solution or a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved disinfectant.
Offer medical evaluation and counseling
The DOE must provide confidential medical evaluation and counseling to any employee who has been exposed to blood, other infectious body fluids or needlesticks. The site employee safety administrator is responsible for providing car service with a procurement card (P-card) to and from a Health and Hospitals Corporation site at no cost if an employee has been put at risk. All diagnoses must remain confidential.
Members also can choose to go to their own doctor. The site employee safety administrator is responsible for providing car service with a procurement card (P-card) to and from the doctor. Co-payments will be reimbursed within 60 days.
If you believe your school is not providing employees with the protection required or there are problems with implementation of the bloodborne pathogens program at your school, please contact the UFT Safety and Health Department at 1-212-598-9287.
Related topics: environmental health
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