OSHA HAND WASHING REQUIREMENTS
Since the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings, AHCA has received several inquiries regarding OSHAs requirements for hand washing. AHCA requested that OSHA clarify whether the CDC guideline, which supports the use of alcohol-based hand rubs as an effective means for decontaminating hands in healthcare settings, conflicts with OSHAs requirements.
According to a letter of interpretation received from Richard Fairfax, Director, OSHA Directorate of Enforcement Programs, employers must ensure that workers wash with soap and water immediately or as soon as feasible following contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. If there has been no occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials, antiseptic hand cleansers may be used as an appropriate hand washing practice. Unless there has been contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials, the use of alcohol-based hand cleansers described in the CDCs October 2002 guideline is appropriate. Therefore, the guidelines are considered consistent with OSHA regulations. The OSHA letter may be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=20620&p_text_version=FALSE.