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Innovative ideas for complying with OSHA regs.

Creative use of videotapes, picture frames, and even cat-box litter can promote staff compliance with Federal regulations on minimizing worker exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

CLINICAL LABORATORIES must keep striving to abide by Federal regulations against exposure to bloodborne pathogens and hazardous chemicals.(1) The new rules, which went into effect in 1991 and 1992, tell us what we have to do(2) while allowing us room for innovative implementation. We are left to our own devices in choosing measures that will work best to enhance staff compliance.

Shortly after the regulations were published, the South Central Area Resource Office of the National Laboratory Training Network presented a series of workshops on the subject in cooperation with the public health laboratories of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. We found the exchange of ideas that took place during the workshops to be so highly valued by those attending that we decided to share them with the laboratory community at large. The 10 most notable innovations are presented here.

1 Videotape it. Among the laboratorians who must comply with the new Federal regulations are those who work in the housekeeping and maintenance departments. Educational problems arise because these jobs are often held by employees with minimal skills in reading and/or English. Furthermore, turnover can be high. Effective, easy-to-understand safety training for new employees can be achieved through video. With a borrowed or rented videocamera, follow someone from your laboratory's housekeeping staff and another from maintenance on a daily route. The videotape you create will clearly document what needs to be done, where, and in what order. Add the tape to your orientation library.

2 Frame it. Low-cost clear acrylic picture frames can be substituted for the more expensive commercial splash shields. Such frames can be purchased in various sizes at discount stores. Make sure the one used is large enough to cover the work area amply.

3 Deodorize. Sprinkle cat litter in the bottom of biohazard bags to neutralize odor and absorb moisture. Any commercial brand will work well.

4 Devise a game. Use out-of-date films on safety practices to spice up routine in-service training. Ask your staff to "star" in a game entitled "What's wrong with this picture?" Before the film starts, ask workers to spot incidents that contradict current safety standards and practices. The person who identifies the most mistakes wins a price. People pay closer attention when asked to look for errors.

5 Hold a fair. During National Medical Laboratory Week, increase your staff's safety awareness by devoting one full day to safety. Provide short training sessions. Organize a lab safety fair. Call vendors and request exhibits to lab safety equipment, training materials, and catalogs appropriate to your setting. Ask for free samples to give away as door prizes. In viewing the exhibits, laboratorians will see and handle the latest protective material. Hands-on experience builds awareness. Supervisors will be aided in selecting the best and most popular equipment. Supporting such fairs sends an important message: that management supports safety regulations.

6 Inspect each other. Every quarter, ask one lab section to inspect the others. The section with the highest score receives a Safety Awards--perhaps a plaque--and conducts the next inspection. Your hospital at large may be interested in implementing this idea.

7 Make suggestions. Establish a safety suggestion box. Encourage employees to list several solutions for every problem they can identify. Award safety awareness T-shirts and mugs for the "suggestion of the month."

8 Tie a ribbon. To monitor the effectiveness of your laboratory's fume hood, tape a piece of ribbon on the inside. Whenever the hood is turned on, the billowing ribbon will visibly demonstrate that air is flowing.

9 Start a cart. To make certain that all necessary safety supplies and instructions are available to staff immediately after a spill has occurred, set up a hazardous chemical spill cart similar to hospital "crash carts."

10 List barriers. Neatly list the minimum barrier precautions required at each workstation on a small index card and post the card in the appropriate station. Ask supervisors to monitor every technologist for adherence to barrier precautions as a routine practice.

* Sharing creativity. The participants who gave us these tips brought out the fact that laboratorians are highly creative problem solvers. Make use of your staff's capabilities. Call other laboratory professionals in your area and form a support group. Meet regularly to brainstorm ideas on how to make safety regulations work to benefit your laboratory and the health care professionals who work in it.

References

1. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens; final rule (29 CFR 1910.1030). Federal Register. December 6, 1991, pp. 64004-64182.

2. Brown JW, Blackwell H. Complying with the new OSHA regs, Part 1: Teaching your staff about biosafety. MLO. April 1992; 24(4): 24-28. Part 2: Safety protocols no lab can ignore. May 1992; 24(5): 27-29. Part 3: Compiling employee safety records that will satisfy OSHA. June 1992; 24(6): 45-48.

Hickman is director of the MLT program at Delgado Community College and Theriot is president of Creative Educators, a consulting firm, both in New Orleans, La. When they wrote this article, the authors were training advisor and resource director, respectively, in the New Orleans-based South Central Area Resource Office of the National Laboratory Training Network, a cooperative project between the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Laboratory Directors and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Occupational Safety and Hazardous Agency
Author:Hickman, Sheila M.; Theriot, Betty Lynne
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Words:907
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