OSHA Topics

Bloodborne Pathogens

posted Apr 6, 2010, 6:01 AM by David Wright   [ updated Apr 6, 2010, 6:08 AM ]

Could you contract a disease at work?  What if someone sneezes on you? Or using a tool with dried blood? Or cleaning Restrooms?  The simple answer is YES!  This is why we are going to learn about Bloodborne Pathogens.  A bloodborne pathogen is a disease producing bacteria or microorganism.  OSHA defines a bloodborne pathogen as a pathogenic microorganism present in human blood that can lead to disease.  There are many disease carrying pathogenic microorganisms that are covered by the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard; however, the most common and those of primary concern are Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B (HBV), and Hepatitis C (HCV). 


Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV):

  • HIV is the virus that leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).  A person can carry HIV for many years and not have symptoms until it turns into full-blown AIDS.
  • AIDS attacks the person’s immune system, which makes it difficult for the body to fight off disease.Scientists and medical authorities agree that HIV does not survive well outside the body.  Drying of HIV-infected human blood or other body fluids reduces the risk of environmental transmission to essentially zero.
  • HIV is found in very low quantities in saliva and tears from some AIDS patients.  HIV has not been found in the sweat of HIV-infected persons.  Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in the transmission of HIV.

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV):

  • 1 to 1 ¼  million Americans are chronically infected
  • Symptoms include: jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, intermittent nausea, vomiting
  • May lead to chronic liver disease, liver cancer, and death
  • Vaccination available since 1982
  • HBV can survive for at least one week in dried blood


Hepatitis C Virus (HCV):

  • An estimated 3.9 million Americans have been infected with HCV of whom 2.7 million are chronically infected.
  • Persons chronically infected with HCV may not be aware of it because they are not clinically ill.  Sometimes it can take two decades before symptoms are recognized.
  • Chronic liver disease occurs in approximately 70 percent of infected persons.
  • There are some drugs that have been licensed for treatment of HCV; however, they are only effective in 10–40 percent of persons.
  • 8,000–10,000 deaths occur each year as a result of the chronic liver disease.
  • There are some drugs that have been licensed for treatment of HCV; however, they are only effective in 10–40 percent of persons.

Potentially Infectious Bodily Fluids are the bodily fluids that you are most likely to encounter in the workplace like blood, saliva, vomit, or urine.  If blood is not present in a bodily fluid, bloodborne pathogens cannot be present.  Remember, sometimes the blood may be present in microscopic quantities and difficult to see with the naked eye.  To be safe, you must assume that all bodily fluids are contaminated with infectious blood.  This is called universal precautions.  We will discuss this in further detail later.

Bloodborne pathogens can only be transmitted to you if you physically make contact with an infected person’s blood or bodily fluid containing blood.  Even then, your healthy skin is an excellent barrier to bloodborne pathogens.  The contaminated blood or bodily fluid can enter your body through mucous membranes such as your eyes, mouth, or nose.  If your skin is not intact at the point of contact with the contaminated blood or bodily fluid, the bloodborne pathogen could potentially be transmitted.  Examples of non-intact skin include:  dermatitis, hangnails, cuts, abrasions, acne, etc.

Obviously, a contaminated sharp, such as a needle or broken glass, could potentially transmit bloodborne pathogens because of the penetration of the skin.

The Bloodborne Pathogens standard requires employers to identify the jobs, tasks, and activities that could expose employees to potentially infected blood or bodily fluids. Exposure could occur when near someone who is involved in an industrial accident. Obviously, when administering first aid to someone who is bleeding, you are potentially exposed.  Employees expected to clean up work surfaces, equipment, or machinery after an accident are also potentially exposed.  Janitorial workers are potentially exposed when cleaning up urine, vomit, sanitary napkins, etc.  Maintenance workers might potentially be exposed when repairing the plumbing on a toilet.

This is why you always want to use the Universal Precautions Concept – TREAT ALL BLOOD AND BODILY FLUIDS AS IF THEY ARE CONTAMINATED.  Always wear appropriate PPE when handling any type of bodily fluid.  Universal precautions require adequate cleanup and decontamination of yourself, equipment, and tools.  Always wash your hands after handling any type of bodily fluid, even when wearing gloves.

Safe Work Practices: Remove contaminated clothing or PPE as soon as possible.  If blood were to splash onto your shoes, pants, or shirt, remove those items as soon as possible.  Wash your skin in the area underneath the clothing that was contaminated with the bodily fluid.  Remove contaminated PPE, such as gloves, as soon as you are done administering first aid or decontaminating equipment or work surfaces.  Cleaning/disinfecting tools, work surfaces, or equipment will prevent the next user from unknowingly coming into contact with potentially infected bodily fluids.  Thoroughly wash your hands, face, or any other areas of your skin that may have come into contact with bodily fluids.  If you believe that blood or other potentially contaminated bodily fluid was splashed into your eyes, immediately go to an emergency eyewash station and flush your eyes.  Properly disposing of contaminated items in appropriately labeled bags or containers will help prevent someone from accidentally being exposed.

Hepatitis B Vaccination: The use of the HBV vaccine is strongly endorsed by medical, scientific, and public health communities as a safe and effective way to prevent disease and death.  There is no confirmed evidence that indicates the HBV vaccine can cause chronic illness.  Reports of unusual illnesses following a vaccine are most often related to other causes and are not related to the vaccine.  The hepatitis B vaccination is a series of three injections that are effective in preventing infection with hepatitis B.  Currently, there is no requirement for routine boosters; however, this is still being assessed.  Any employee that rendered first aid in a situation involving the presence of blood or other potentially infectious material, whether or not a specific exposure occurred, will be offered the full immunization series.  This vaccination is paid for by the employer.  If you decline the hepatitis B vaccination, you will be asked to sign a form that states you waived your opportunity to receive the vaccination.  However, even if you sign the form now, you may still change your mind later and accept the vaccination.  The form basically states that at this time you do not want to have the shots.  The language on the declination form is straight out of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard.




Confined Spaces

posted Feb 8, 2010, 12:58 PM by David Wright

Confined Space: an area not designed for human habitation that contains hazards to human health and safety, and has limited access in and out.  There are two types of confined spaces, permit required and non-permit required.  Permit required confined spaces require specially trained personnel to enter them.  There must be a trained rescue team standing by, a safety hoist to pull the person out, and other requirements.  No one at this site has had that kind of training, and entry into a permit required confined space is prohibited.  Permit required confined spaces are marked with the words “Confined Space”.  Non-permit required confined spaces may be entered by site personnel if correct lockout / tagout procedures are used.  An example would be behind the blade of a collection vehicle.  The engine must be shut down, the key removed, parking brake set and master switch set to the off position before entering.

Definition:  A confined space is an area that is not designed for human habitation, may contain hazards to human health and safety, has limited access in and out, or may contain a hazardous atmosphere.


Confined spaces come in two basic types, permit required and non-permit required.  Management must perform an evaluation of each confined space, and the space identified as permit required or not.  A permit required confined space means that if anyone enters the space, a trained rescue team must be standing by and the atmosphere in the confined space must be tested prior to entry.  A permit must also be filled out.


The confined spaces at our sites consist of the following:


Space                                                 permit required                     non-permit required


Inside a compactor                                                                                      **


Storm drains                                                 **


Fuel tanks                                                     **


Sewer lift stations                                        **


Trenches (deeper than 4 feet)                                                                   **


When entering a non-permit required confined space, proper lockout / tagout procedures must still be used.  This means if there are any possible energy sources or stored energy they must first be removed.

Anyone found entering a permit required confined space without authorization and proper training may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.



posted Feb 8, 2010, 12:54 PM by David Wright

Lockout / Tagout: The act of locking out the potential hazard associated with a piece of machinery or area, and tagging the machinery to notify the machine operator that the machine or equipment has been locked out.

Maintenance personnel are required to maintain locks and locking devices for use in lockout / tagout procedures.  The locks used must be unique in both appearance and function.  This means that only the mechanic that owns the lock should have a key to his lock, and the lock must look different from other locks used at the site.  Other forms of lockout include the use of wheel chocks, jack stands, and safety braces under raised blades and raised truck bodies, allowing the engine to cool before working on it, and relieving pressure on hydraulic systems before performing work on the unit.  Tagout devices should be warning tags or steering wheel covers that alert the operator not to use the equipment.

It is illegal for anyone except the mechanic/driver that installed it, to attempt to remove a lockout or tagout device from a piece of equipment.





Lock-out- Physically placing a lock or locking device onto a piece of machinery or equipment to prevent the accidental energizing of said equipment, usually while maintenance is being performed.


Tag-out- Placing a warning tag or steering wheel covers on the locked out equipment to notify others that the equipment is locked out.


Lockout device: a lock used by an authorized employee to disable a piece of machinery or equipment.  This lock must be unique, both in appearance (color) and the keying (each mechanic must have his own lock and key that only his key fits).


Only the employee (or the employee’s immediate supervisor) that installs a lockout device may remove the device.  It is illegal for anyone else to attempt to remove the lock.  This is to protect the mechanic that may be working on the equipment.


Other forms of lockout include, but are not limited to the following:


*Wheel chocks                     *Cylinder braces                  *Vehicle body braces

*Jack stands                         *Allowing time for engine parts to cool


Body / tailgate braces, and wheel chocks are required whenever a vehicle is being worked on in the shop.



1.    Park Truck on level surface

2.    Engage parking break

3.    Turn off Engine

4.    Remove key and put it in your pocket

5.    Kill battery

6.    Notify anyone that may be around your vehicle



            Lockout/Tagout procedures for mechanics must be equipment specific and each employee must be able to show competent knowledge of the procedure for each type of equipment.

Hazardous Communication

posted Dec 21, 2009, 10:22 AM by David Wright   [ updated Dec 21, 2009, 10:26 AM ]

In 1984, an industrial disaster happened at a Union Carbide plant in Bophal, India.  This tragedy took the lives of 3000 people.  This event resulted in the Federal Government passing what is known as the OSHA Hazard Communication laws, or more commonly known as “Right to Know”.

This program comes in several topics, such as Community Right to Know, Employee Right to Know, and container labeling.  This training will address Employee Right to Know and container labeling.

Employee Right to Know means that as an employee, you have the right to know the safety information that is applicable to the products and chemicals used and stored at your place of employment.  This information is made available to you in the form of an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet), which is the safety data of a material.  These can be found at the MSDS Book, which are located at various places around the shop and in each site trailer.  Your supervisor can show you where your sites MSDS’s books or help you obtain a specific MSDS.


Each MSDS sheet contains 9 sections:

1)      Product identification.  It tells you who makes it and the products name.

2)      The chemical ingredients.

3)      The physical & chemical properties, such as the specific gravity, boiling point, appearance and odor, and melting point.

4)      The fire and explosion data, such as what type of extinguisher to use, and the flash point.  Any flashpoints less than 115 degrees are considered flammable.

5)      The protective precaution.  This is where you find the personal protective equipment needed to work safely with the product.

6)      The health hazards associated with the product and the first aid procedures in case you are over exposed to the product.

7)      The reactivity data.  This is whether the product will react with other materials to cause a fire, explosion, or gas.  This tells you what not to mix it with.

8)      How to store the product.

9)      The transportation procedures.


It is our policy to always read the MSDS sheet information prior to using a new product, or before using a product that you have never used before.  Knowing and using the information contained within the MSDS ahead of time can prevent you from being injured.


There are two kinds of containers, permanent and temporary.  A permanent container comes from a manufacturer, and has a label on it that gives you information on the product.  A temporary container is an un-marked container.  Temporary containers are illegal.  All containers in the workplace must be labeled.  If you see a container, including drums and storage tanks that are not labeled, contact your supervisor so it can be labeled.


posted Dec 10, 2009, 5:45 AM by David Wright   [ updated Mar 9, 2010, 6:50 AM ]

On–the–Job Evaluation §1926.651(k)

The standard requires that a competent person inspect, on a daily basis, excavations and the adjacent areas for possible cave–ins, failures of protective systems and equipment, hazardous atmospheres, or other hazardous conditions. If these conditions are encountered, exposed employees must be removed from the hazardous area until the necessary safety precautions have been taken. Inspections are also required after natural (e.g., heavy rains) or man–made events such as blasting that may increase the potential for hazards.

Larger and more complex operations should have a full–time safety official who makes recommendations to improve the implementation of the safety plan. In a smaller operation, the safety official may be part–time and usually will be a supervisor.

Supervisors are the contractor's representatives on the job. Supervisors should conduct inspections, investigate accidents, and anticipate hazards. They should ensure that employees receive on–the–job safety and health training. They should also review and strengthen overall safety and health precautions to guard against potential hazards, get the necessary worker cooperation in safety matters, and make frequent reports to the contractor.

It is important that managers and supervisors set the example for safety at the job site. It is essential that when visiting the job site, all managers, regardless of status, wear the prescribed personal protective equipment such as safety shoes, safety glasses, hard hats, and other necessary gear.

Employees must also take an active role in job safety. The contractor and supervisor should make certain that workers have been properly trained in the use and fit of the prescribed protective gear and equipment, that they are wearing and using the equipment correctly, and that they are using safe work practices.

Cave–ins and Protective Support Systems

Support Systems

Excavation workers are exposed to many hazards, but the chief hazard is danger of cave–ins. OSHA requires that in all excavations employees exposed to potential cave–ins must be protected by sloping, or benching the sides of the excavation; supporting the sides of the excavation, or placing a shield between the side of the excavation and the work area.

One method of ensuring the safety and health of workers in an excavation is to slope the sides to an angle not steeper than one and one–half horizontal to one vertical (34 degrees measured from the horizontal). These slopes must be excavated to form configurations that are in accordance with those for Type C soil found in Appendix B of the standard. A slope of this gradation or less is considered safe for any type of soil.  It is our policy to treat all soils as if they are Class C (see table below).





VERTICAL (90 Deg.)


3/4:1 (53 Deg.)


1:1 (45 Deg.)


1 1/2:1 (34 Deg.)

B - 1.3 Excavations Made in Type C Soil

1. All simple slope excavations 20 feet or less in depth shall have a maximum allowable slope of 1 ½:1.


2. All excavations 20 feet or less in depth which have vertically sided lower portions shall be shielded or supported to a height at least 18 inches above the top of the vertical side. All such excavations shall have a maximum allowable slope of 1 ½:1.


3. All other sloped excavations shall be in accordance with the other options permitted in §1926.652(b).

B - 1.4 Excavations Made in Layered Soils

1. All excavations 20 feet or less in depth made in layered soils shall have a maximum allowable slope for each layer as set forth below.


A second design method, which can be applied for both sloping and shoring, involves using tabulated data, such as tables and charts, approved by a registered professional engineer. These data must be in writing and must include sufficient explanatory information to enable the user to make a selection, including the criteria for determining the selection and the limits on the use of the data.

At least one copy of the information, including the identity of the registered professional engineer who approved the data, must be kept at the worksite during construction of the protective system. Upon completion of the system, the data may be stored away from the job site, but a copy must be made available, upon request, to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA.

Contractors also may use a trench box or shield that is either designed or approved by a registered professional engineer or is based on tabulated data prepared or approved by a registered professional engineer. Timber, aluminum, or other suitable materials may also be used. OSHA standards permit the use of a trench shield (also known as a welder's hut) as long as the protection it provides is equal to or greater than the protection that would be provided by the appropriate shoring system.

The employer is free to choose the most practical design approach for any particular circumstance. Once an approach has been selected, however, the required performance criteria must be met by that system.

The standard does not require the installation and use of a protective system when an excavation: (1) is made entirely in stable rock, or (2) is less than five feet deep and a competent person has examined the ground and found no indication of a potential cave–in.

Safety Precautions

The standard requires the employer to provide support systems such as shoring, bracing, or underpinning to ensure the stability of adjacent structures such as buildings, wells, sidewalks or pavements.

The standard prohibits excavation below the level of the base or footing of any foundation or retaining wall unless: (1) a support system such as underpinning is provided, (2) the excavation is in stable rock, or (3) a registered professional engineer determines that the structure is sufficiently removed from the excavation and that excavation will not pose a hazard to employees.

Excavations under sidewalks and pavements are also prohibited unless an appropriately designed support system is provided or another effective method is used.

Installation and Removal of Protective Systems §1926.652(e)

The standard requires the following procedures for the protection of employees when installing support systems:

·        Securely connect members of support systems.

·        Safely install support systems.

·        Never overload members of support systems.

·        Install other structural members to carry loads imposed on the support system when temporary removal of individual members is necessary.

In addition, the standard permits excavation of two feet or less below the bottom of the members of a support or shield system of a trench if: (1) the system is designed to resist the forces calculated for the full depth of the trench, and (2) there are not indications, while the trench is open, of a possible cave–in below the bottom of the support system. Also, the installation of support systems must be closely coordinated with the excavation of trenches.

As soon as work is completed, the excavation should be backfilled as the protective system is dismantled. After the excavation has been cleared, workers should slowly remove the protective system from the bottom up, taking care to release members slowly.

Materials and Equipment

The employer is responsible for the safe condition of materials and equipment used for protective systems. Defective and damaged materials and equipment can result in the failure of a protective system and cause excavation hazards.

To avoid possible failure of a protective system, the employer must ensure that (1) materials and equipment are free from damage or defects, (2) manufactured materials and equipment are used and maintained in a manner consistent with the recommendations of the manufacturer and in a way that will prevent employee exposure to hazards, and (3) while in operation, damaged materials and equipment are examined by a competent person to determine if they are suitable for continued use. If materials and equipment are not safe for use, they must be removed from service. These materials cannot be returned to service without the evaluation and approval of a registered professional engineer.

Other Hazards

Falls and Equipment §1926.651(e),(f)

In addition to cave–in hazards and secondary hazards related to cave–ins, there are other hazards from which workers must be protected during excavation–related work. These hazards include exposure to falls, falling loads, and mobile equipment. To protect employees from these hazards, OSHA requires the employer to take the following precautions:

·             Keep materials or equipment that might fall or roll into an excavation at least 2 feet from the edge of excavations, or have retaining devices, or both.

·             Provide warning systems such as mobile equipment, barricades, hand or mechanical signals, or stop logs, to alert operators of the edge of an excavation. If possible, keep the grade away from the excavation.

·             Provide scaling to remove loose rock or soil or install protective barricades and other equivalent protection to protect employees against falling rock, soil, or materials.

·             Prohibit employees from working on faces of sloped or benched excavations at levels above other employees unless employees at lower levels are adequately protected from the hazard of falling, rolling, or sliding material or equipment.

·             Prohibit employees under loads that are handled by lifting or digging equipment. To avoid being struck by any spillage or falling materials, require employees to stand away from vehicles being loaded or unloaded. If cabs of vehicles provide adequate protection from falling loads during loading and unloading operations, the operators may remain in them.

Water Accumulation §1926.651(h)

The standard prohibits employees from working in excavations where water has accumulated or is accumulating unless adequate protection has been taken. If water removal equipment is used to control or prevent water from accumulating, the equipment and operations of the equipment must be monitored by a competent person to ensure proper use.

OSHA standards also require that diversion ditches, dikes, or other suitable means be used to prevent surface water from entering an excavation and to provide adequate drainage of the area adjacent to the excavation. Also, a competent person must inspect excavations subject to runoffs from heavy rains.

Hazardous Atmospheres §1926.651(g)

Under this provision, a competent person must test excavations greater than four feet in depth as well as ones where oxygen deficiency or a hazardous atmosphere exists or could reasonably be expected to exist, before an employee enters the excavation. If hazardous conditions exist, controls such as proper respiratory protection or ventilation must be provided. Also, controls used to reduce atmospheric contaminants to acceptable levels must be tested regularly.

Where adverse atmospheric conditions may exist or develop in an excavation, the employer also must provide and ensure that emergency rescue equipment, (e.g., breathing apparatus, a safety harness and line, basket stretcher, etc.) is readily available. This equipment must be attended when used.

When an employee enters bell–bottom pier holes and similar deep and confined footing excavations, the employee must wear a harness with a lifeline. The lifeline must be securely attached to the harness and must be separate from any line used to handle materials. Also, while the employee wearing the lifeline is in the excavation, an observer must be present to ensure that the lifeline is working properly and to maintain communication with the employee.

Access and Egress §1926.651(c)

Under the standard, the employer must provide safe access and egress to all excavations. According to OSHA regulations, when employees are required to be in trench excavations 4–feet deep or more, adequate means of exit, such as ladders, steps, ramps or other safe means of egress, must be provided and be within 25 feet of lateral travel.

If structural ramps are used as a means of access or egress, they must be designed by a competent person if used for employee access or egress, or a competent person qualified in structural design if used by vehicles. Also, structural members used for ramps or runways must be uniform in thickness and joined in a manner to prevent tripping or displacement.


Trenching and excavation work presents serious risks to all workers involved. The greatest risk, and one of primary concern, is that of a cave–in. Furthermore, when cave–in accidents occur, they are much more likely to result in worker fatalities than other excavation–related accidents. Strict compliance, however, with all sections of the standard will prevent or greatly reduce the risk of cave–ins as well as other excavation–related accidents.


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