Occupational Exposure: Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a potentially fatal liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus.  This virus is spread by infected blood and other bodily fluids.  Adults who acquire Hep B may never fully recover, and remain chronically infected.  Due to the severity of the virus, OSHA requires any workers who could have an occupational exposure to blood and/or bodily fluids to be vaccinated.

OSHA defines an occupational exposure as reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee’s duties.  Every position has its own occupational exposure risk, however only employees that are in direct contact with bodily fluids and/or around materials that could transfer the virus such as used needles or medical instruments are obligated to receive the Hepatitis B Vaccine at employers cost.  To avoid exposures an employer must develop an exposure control plan and implement use of universal precautions and control measures, such as engineering controls, work practice controls, and personal protective equipment to protect all workers with occupational exposure in order to be compliant with OSHA standards.

Employers need to enforce that all occupationally exposed workers are trained about Hep B virus  and vaccination.  The vaccination must be offered after the worker is trained and within ten days of initial assignment to a job where there’s occupational exposure, unless worker has previously received a vaccine series, antibody testing has revealed that the worker is immune, or the vaccine is contraindicated for medical reasons.  If employee has had vaccine at a previous job, you are required to do a titer test to prove immunity.  I & O Medical Centers can complete these vaccinations and titers for you.  The Hepatitis B vaccine is done in a three shot series.  For the vaccination to work you must complete the series in the allotted time.

  1.        First Injection – At any given time
  2.        Second Injection – At least one month after the first dose
  3.        Third Injection – Six months after the first dose

I & O Medical Center will help you keep your employees on track with their vaccines.  If you are interested in this service, please reach out to one of our Client Service Representatives.