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Universal precautions refer to actions necessary to reduce exposure risks to disease-causing organisms present in human blood. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates universal precautions and blood-borne pathogens training for employees whose job duties put them at risk for exposure. Training methods are not dictated, but OSHA rules specify the minimum requirements. Online universal precautions training programs are viable training options if they meet certain requirements.
Key OSHA training elements include an understandable explanation of blood-borne diseases and how they are transmitted, as well as an explanation of how to prevent or reduce exposures through engineering controls, personal protective equipment and universal precautions. Basically, universal precautions require employees to treat any blood or bodily fluid as if it is infected with a disease-causing pathogen. This means donning the appropriate protection before providing assistance to sick or injured persons and before cleaning up contaminated surfaces. Training must address this in detail, along with other requirements.
Online Training Interactive Component
Before selecting an online training vendor or package, verify that the training content conforms to all of OSHA's minimum training requirements. This includes a requirement for trainees to be able to ask and have questions answered during the training session. To fulfill this requirement, request online training providers to supply an interactive element to the training. For example, online training providers can use video conferencing with a live instructor, or provide an onscreen chat room or question box that allows participants to get questions answered anytime during the training.
OSHA rules state that “the person conducting the training shall be knowledgeable in the subject matter covered by the elements contained in the training program as it relates to the workplace that the training will address.” This means that you should verify the credentials of online training providers and make sure subject matter experts develop the online curriculum. Typical credentials and qualifications include a combination of safety education and work experience, as well as a thorough knowledge of universal precautions rules. Trainer certifications are not required, but those with Certified Safety Professional status are well qualified.
Companies using online training providers are ultimately responsible for the quality and of the training. As an employer, verify the training quality and evaluate employee understanding of the material covered. According to a worker safety and health training study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, behavior modeling and substantial practice is more effective than other methods of training. Conducting tabletop drills using a variety of workplace scenarios is one way to allow employees to practice universal precautions procedures, while at the same time allowing for the evaluation of the effectiveness of online training programs.
- Medical Dictionary: Universal Precautions
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Bloodborne Pathogens
- PubMed.gov: OSHA Regulations on Universal Precautions - A Sample Training Curriculum
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Relative Effectiveness of Worker Safety and Health Training Methods
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