[Editors’ Note: This month, Phlebotomy Today launches a new column: Advice From an OSHA Expert. We’re pleased to welcome safety expert and columnist, Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP), SLS, also known as “Dan the Lab Safety Man” as our newest contributor.]
Are you part of an inpatient phlebotomy team? Do you draw blood outside of a hospital but bring specimens into the lab? Do you receive or process specimens in the laboratory? Whether you are actually a lab employee or not, the personal protective equipment (PPE) you wear when you draw, handle, and process blood samples is the same.
The work hazard assessment conducted by the employer determines what PPE employees are required to wear when working on patient units or when collecting outside of the hospital setting. At a minimum, OSHA requires glove use during vascular access procedures. However, it is not acceptable to work in the laboratory without a lab coat and gloves if you are at a bench where specimens are handled. If you are processing specimens, taking them out of transport bags, operating a centrifuge, you absolutely need a lab coat and gloves. Face protection is required as well if you are opening samples.
Take a look around the lab. The other staff there should be using their PPE, and they should provide it for you if you do work at that site. If you are unfamiliar with the lab, ask for safety training and for your own safety, ask for PPE.
What if you have a specimen processing area that is located in the same space where blood collection occurs? If that is your situation, you do need to wear a closed lab coat whenever you process specimens. To always be protected, in addition to gloves wear a lab coat whenever you are in the department and when drawing patients. If permitted by facility policy, the other option would be to have a lab coat ready to don whenever specimen processing occurs. To keep yourself safe whenever you are drawing and handling those specimens inside and outside the lab, make sure you know and follow your facility’s PPE requirements.
You can contact “Dan the Lab Safety Man” at firstname.lastname@example.org
US Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Bloodborne Pathogens (29 CFR 1910.1030). Link. Accessed 10/5/18.