OSHA expects extra steps when documenting hepatitis B vaccinations

By: February 27th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

As more new employees come into your organization already vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus (HBV), that may mean less administering of shots but more efforts to document your employees’ immune status.

The CDC estimates that 80.5% of healthcare workers are protected from HBV through vaccinations, according to Hepatitis B Vaccination Coverage Among Adults —United States, 2004 . Now if only all of them had well-documented vaccination records.

A vaccination record is a useful tool when healthcare professionals assess the treatment and counseling needed after a needlestick or sharps injury. That’s why OSHA wants employers to do a thorough job in ascertaining if their employees are protected.

“Employers must make every effort to obtain a reliable record of employees’ vaccination status. These efforts may include contacting the previous employer or facility where the vaccination was administered to obtain these records, according to a February 2007 OSHA standards interpretation letter.

Furthermore, if documentation from the previous employer is unavailable, OSHA says you must document your effort to obtain it.

In theory, it should become easier to obtain HBV vaccination records from employers since section (h)(1)(iv) of the bloodborne pathogens standard requires maintaining records “for at least the duration of employment plus 30 years.” That includes you, too.

Go to the tools page to download a sample HBV vaccination documentation form.

Did you find this advice helpful? Learn how you can get all your OSHA questions answered by registering for OSHA Healthcare Advisor’s “Q&A Roundtable: Solutions to Your Compliance Challenges” audioconference.

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Comments

If, on new employees, lab is done for the hepatitis b surface antibody and results show immunity, would that not suffice?

By David LaHoda on February 27th, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Correct. The letter goes on to explain that the employer must offer the HBV vaccination “unless previous antibody testing has revealed that the employee is immune.”

If this exemption is claimed, however, you must document it in the employee’s medical record, according to Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens.

Also, be aware that the standard “prohibits making participation in a prescreening program a prerequisite for receiving hepatitis B vaccination [29 CFR 1910.1030(f)(2)(ii)],” the letter adds.

 

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