“In our operating rooms, a plume (smoke) is often produced by the use of cautery & laser.
Since it has been demonstrated that there is viable HIV and human papilloma virus (HPV) within the Plume, I have two questions: 1) how can I be sure we are in compliance with OSHA? and 2) How can I be certain our doctors and nurses are safe in our operating room?”
OSHA’s laser safety standard 29 CFR 1910.97(a) has addressed the issue of laser plume. Since it is a serious issue for employees, the National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended two effective ways to control it. They are:
• Work Practices
The smoke evacuator or room suction hose nozzle inlet must be kept within 2 inches of the surgical site to effectively capture airborne contaminants generated by these surgical devices. The smoke evacuator should be ON (activated) at all times when airborne particles are produced during all surgical or other procedures. At the completion of the procedure all tubing, filters, and absorbers must be considered infectious waste and be disposed appropriately. New filters and tubing should be installed on the smoke evacuator for each procedure. While there are many commercially available smoke evacuator systems to select from, all of these LEV systems must be regularly inspected and maintained to prevent possible leaks. Users must also utilize control measures such as standard precautions, as required by the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen standard.
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