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What Are The Actual Requirements Regarding TB?

Q: What is the bottom line about following the CDC's TB guidelines? How "required" is this by OSHA?

A: Even though the TB standard was rescinded, OSHA has since issued citations related to TB under the General Duty Clause:

Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees...

Because the General Duty Clause is just that, general, OSHA inspectors can apply it to a variety of unsafe workplace conditions that aren't specifically mentioned in the federal register. The fines corresponding to the TB related citations ranged from $1,100 to $5,000.

Here are some excerpts from the violations:

The employer knew or should have known that employees were exposed to... Mycobacterium tuberculosis through unprotected contact with a patient who was suspected to be infected with tuberculosis and later confirmed to be infectious...

Feasible and useful means of abatement... as recommended by the CDC, include... providing training and information to ensure employee knowledge of... the mode of TB transmission... site specific, and post exposure protocols.

Note the violation is worded "knew or should have known." Quality America's take is that if an agency like NIOSH or the CDC has stated a particular hazard exists in the medical or dental workplace you would be hard pressed to prove to an OSHA inspector that the hazard wasn't recognized. Therefore we take the conservative approach and consider it "required" to follow published recommendations. Of course if you want to roll the dice...

Ready to get your facility into compliance with the CDC's TB Guidelines? Refer to Tab 6 of Quality America's OSHA Safety Program Manual, or Tab 7 if you've got the Dental OSHA Safety Program Manual.

Posted by Quality America on March 7, 2007 | Comments (0)

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