Environmental, Health and Safety Services

Introduction

The purpose of the Infection Control Plan is to:

  • Provide safety policies for the protection of Virginia Tech employees who have a potential for occupational exposure to infectious material.
  • Establish a program which provides Virginia Tech employees with the following services:
    • Information relative to their potential exposures,
    • Training on safe work practices, engineering controls, and university policies related to occupational exposure, and
    • Preventative vaccinations and titers (when available) and infection control services following an exposure incident

Application

The Infection Control Plan (ICP) is intended for distribution university-wide. Each department having employees at risk for exposure to infectious materials shall develop specific policies and procedures as outlined in this plan. Departmental-specific materials shall be inserted in the document where required. This plan describes engineering controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment that, when used correctly, reduces on–the-job exposure to infectious material. Also described are the university’s training, vaccination, and incident reporting programs.

Scope

The Infection Control program is designed to provide service to employees with occupational exposure to potentially infectious material including tissues from humans and animals or contact with an infectious microorganism (see Appendices B and C). This program mirrors the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandated Exposure Control Plan for Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) while also addressing infection control policies for employees working with animals, disease causing microorganisms, and human pathogens other than those specifically addressed by OSHA’s BBP program.

Virginia Tech, through its missions of research, has the potential to house a number of different types of biological agents that are associated with specific types of hazards (see Table 1). In addition, Virginia Tech has employees with potential for exposure to infectious disease while working in human and veterinary medical settings, housekeeping, maintenance, and child/elder care (see Table 2).

Table 1. Types of Biological Agents Potentially Found at Virginia Tech

Type of Agent

Associated Hazard

Microorganisms and other toxins (certain bacteria, fungi, rickettsia, viruses [other than arboviruses], and their products)

Infection, exposure, or allergic reaction

Prions (proteinaceous infectious particles lacking nucleic acids)

Neurodegenerative disease (e.g., Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease)

Vertebrate animals and their protein allergens (i.e., urine, feces, hair, saliva and dander)

Zoonotic diseases, allergic reactions

Invertebrate animals

  • Arthopods (crustaceans, arachnids, insects)
  • Parasites (protozoa, flatworms, roundworms)

Bites or stings resulting in skin inflammation, system intoxication, transmission of infectious agents (i.e., arboviruses), or allergic reaction

Higher plants and their allergens/toxins

Dermatitis from skin contact or rhinitis or asthma from inhalation

Lower plants (lichens, liverworts, and ferns)

Allergic reactions; systemic infections; skin inflammation

Source: Fundamentals of Industrial Hygiene, Plog (Ed.), 4 th ed., 1996

Table 2. " At Risk" Occupations and Tasks

Occupations

Job Tasks

Medical Staff (Physicians, Nurses, Athletic Trainers)

  • Patient care
  • Cleaning operations where potentially infectious materials may be present
  • Cleaning blood or other body fluid spills

First Responders (Police, Rescue Squad)

  • Patient care
  • Contact with victims or perpetrators
  • Employees with designated first aid or medical assistance duties

Housekeepers

  • Laundry sorting and cleaning
  • Cleaning operations where potentially infectious materials may be present
  • Response to blood spills and similar events

Plumbers and utility workers

Work involving sanitary sewer systems

Regulated Medical Waste Operations

Waste collection, handling and disposal

Animal Care

  • Patient care
  • Cleaning operations where potentially infectious materials may be present
  • Animal husbandry

Research and Clinical Laboratory Operations

  • Diagnostic or other screening procedures performed on blood or other potentially infectious materials
  • Phlebotomy
  • Research involving organisms identified in Table 1, above