The bloodborne pathogen regulations of OSHA have a very broad reach. Unlike
most OSHA regulations, employees of units of local and state governments are
not exempt. Since many ambulance systems and hospitals are part of city or
county government services, this would exempt too many high risk employees
from these important protections. In addition, many people are covered who
are not normally considered employees. Hospital volunteers and physicians on
the staff are also the responsibility of the hospital.
From a legal liability standpoint, hospitals should make sure that anyone who
works in their system is in compliance with all the bloodborne pathogen
requirements. If they are not employees they are probably not covered by
workers’ compensation. These individuals could sue the hospital as third
parties if they contracted an infectious disease while working in the hospital. If
the hospital can be shown to have allowed this infection because they were
saving themselves a few dollars an immunizations or protective equipment,
then the jury is likely to make a very large award.