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Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-93-1041-2439, United States Postal Service, New Jersey International and Bulk Mail Center, Jersey City, New Jersey.

Burton NC; Hoekstra EJ
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 93-1041-2439, 1994 Jul; :1-15
In response to a request from representatives of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, Local 300, and the New York Metro Area Postal Union, an investigation was conducted of worker exposure to medical specimens and waste sent through the mail at the United States Postal Service New Jersey International and Bulk Mail Center (SIC- 4311), Jersey City, New Jersey. A walk through survey of the facility was conducted and the written policies and programs for bloodborne pathogens and emergency response procedures were evaluated. The written procedures currently in place were in accord with the current OSHA regulations. A torn package containing a blood sample and needle was noted during the walk through study in the First Class Mail area. During the same walk through study several packages labeled as biohazards were pulled from the conveyor stream of Bulk Mail. Two were damaged, but the contents remained intact. Four exposure incidents related to medical specimens and waste were cited between 1990 and 1993. Three of the cases involved employees whose fingers were pricked by potentially contaminated hypodermic needles while handling packages. The fourth was an incident of skin contact with fluid dripping from a damaged biological waste container. The authors conclude that packages containing biohazards are often shipped incorrectly and enter the mechanized Bulk Mail stream, where they can be damaged. The authors recommend that measures be taken to further reduce the risk of employee exposure.
NIOSH-Author; NIOSH-Health-Hazard-Evaluation; NIOSH-Technical-Assistance-Report; HETA-93-1041-2439; Region-2; Hazard-Confirmed; Accident-prevention; Safety-practices; Postal-employees; Manual-materials-handling; Needlestick-injuries; Infection-control; Author Keywords: United States Postal Service; bloodborne pathogens; medical waste; medical specimens; needlestick injuries; emergency response
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Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division