Workers in Pennsylvania, especially those in the solid waste collection and recycling industry, should know about the corporate-wide settlement agreement that OSHA has entered into with TOMRA NY Recycling LLC, a recycling company in New York. In it, TOMRA has agreed to revise its current standards regarding the determination and control of bloodborne pathogen exposure.

Bloodborne pathogens are often transferred through syringe needles since these, if used to inject someone with a drug or medication, are contaminated with blood. Lancets and other sharps can carry these infectious microorganisms, the most common of which are hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. TOMRA has specifically agreed to provide its sorters with puncture-resistant gloves, tongs, and other engineering controls; annual training on OSHA’s BBP standards; and vaccinations for hepatitis B.

OSHA has been upholding its BBP standards for over 20 years. In 1993, the organization made inquiries with a recycling facility as to whether the intermittent presence of hypodermic needles there constitutes a “reasonably anticipated occupational exposure.” The facility established a procedure where the conveyor is stopped and the supervisor summoned whenever hypodermic needles are found. In 2003, OSHA stated that a certain company’s failure to enroll its sorters into the BBP Program and give them hepatitis B vaccinations may result in a serious citation. One should always assume, says OSHA, that a sharp is contaminated.

If a worker contracts anything through exposure to bloodborne pathogens, he or she could file for workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical treatments, though it should be noted that there is a cap on such benefits. When it’s clear that the accident was caused through the company’s negligence, the victim could file an injury claim with the help of a lawyer, who will hire investigators to bring together the necessary proof. A lawyer can estimate the amount that the victim will need for future lost income and medical care.