The draft of a job health standard aimed at protecting health care workers against AIDS and other blood-borne diseases has been completed, according to U.S. Secretary of Labor Ann McLaughlin.
The draft proposal calls for employers to develop safety programs requiring that all blood and body fluids be handled as if they were known to be infected. Each program could be tailored to the individual worksite, but all programs would have to include use of safety equipment, worker training and other specific precautions.McLaughlin said about 5.3 million health care workers at 620,000 worksites in the country are at some risk for blood-borne diseases because they have frequent contact with potentially infectious material.
"Where diseases like AIDS and Hepatitis-B are concerned, our health care professionals are truly on the front line," she said. "They're working to contain the problem. We must ensure they are not victims of it."
About 12,000 health care workers are infected with Hepatitis-B each year, leading to about 200 deaths annually.
Public comments on the proposal will be accepted when the standard is published in the Federal Register.