posted: March 1, 2011
OSHA recently released a training video for healthcare employers designed to explain the proper use of respirators and the protection they offer from the airborne hazards of infectious disease and hazardous chemicals.
The 33-minute video, "Respiratory Protection For Healthcare Workers," is available free of charge on the U.S. Department of Labor's YouTube Channel.
The video contains information about the components of a respiratory protection program, the difference between respirators and surgical masks, and common respiratory hazards found in healthcare settings, including airborne infectious agents that cause diseases such as tuberculosis, pandemic influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome, chicken pox and measles. The video makes it very clear that respiratory protection must be used when there is the possibility of aerosolization due to a procedure performed on a "suspected or confirmed" case of infection.
The video also focuses on the use of respiratory protection when using airborne chemical hazards – including formaldehyde and gluteraldehyde, both of which are used by funeral directors and embalmers – or when engaged in aerosol-generating procedures.
According to an OSHA news release, "Toxic substances can cause eye and nasal irritation, headaches, asthma and other symptoms. Additionally, formaldehyde is a carcinogen that has been linked to nasal and lung cancer, with possible links to brain cancer and leukemia."
The video is characterized by OSHA as an important tool that can be used as part of the training requirements for a respiratory protection program should one be required at the work site because of biological or chemical hazard exposure. The overall training program must be site specific and focus on actual workplace conditions and hazards.
For more information about the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard, NFDA members can call the association's FREE OSHA Hotline at 800-633-2674. The hotline can assist with nearly all inquiries; however, NFDA members can also call NFDA OSHA Counsel Edward M. Ranier with legal questions at 410-967-1812.
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