What You Need to Know about Bloodborne Pathogens Standards and Training

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms that can be found in human blood, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Exposure to contaminated blood in the workplace can result in the spread of these serious diseases. The OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard (20 CFR 1910.1030) sets out the steps employers need to take to protect their employees from exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).

Who is at Risk from Bloodborne Pathogen Contamination?

The OSHA bloodborne pathogen standard covers any employee who might be at risk of accidental contact with infected blood or OPIM. Doctors, nurses, lab techs, and other healthcare professionals are most at risk of bloodborne pathogens, as are emergency first responders. Housekeeping and janitorial staff can also be exposed to pathogens in infected blood.

Causes of Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure

Needlestick injuries are, by far, the most common causes of bloodborne pathogen exposure. Accidental contact with the nose, mouth, skin, and eyes can also occur.

In addition to infected blood, the OSHA bloodborne pathogen standard applies to a OPIM present body fluids such as

  • Amniotic fluid
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Peritoneal fluid
  • Pleural fluid
  • Semen
  • Synovial fluid
  • Vaginal secretions

Any body fluid visibly contaminated with blood, including urine, is subject to the bloodborne pathogens standard.

Bloodborne Pathogens Training

The OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard requires all employees whose tasks bring them into contact with contaminated blood or OPIM receive bloodborne pathogens training. Training must cover:

  • Standard safety precautions
  • Treating all blood and body substances as if infection were present
  • Safe use of employer-provided engineering controls (sharps disposal containers, self-sheathing needles, etc.)
  • Proper use of personal protective equipment (eye and face protection, gloves, etc.)
  • Maintaining good housekeeping procedures
  • An overview of all labels and signs used to communicate workplace hazards
  • Procedures to follow in the event of accidental exposure

Exposure Control Plans

Bloodborne pathogens training--online or offline--must include the details of the facility’s Exposure Control Plan, which OSHA considers the first step towards protection. The plan should:

  • Explain how the facility meets OSHA bloodborne pathogens standards and responds to accidental exposure.
  • Determine each employee's risk of exposure.
  • Details how employees can obtain Hepatitis B vaccinations through the employer’s vaccination program.

Bloodborne Pathogens Training Options

Facilities have options when providing bloodborne pathogen training. Online courses provide all the information required by OSHA, without the need to transport employees to course locations. Instructors can also be brought in to deliver course content onsite.

The nature of the tasks performed by employees will determine the exact nature of their training. For most facilities, a bloodborne pathogens in healthcare course will meet the facility's needs. EMTS would be better served by TPC Training’s bloodborne pathogens in first responder environments course. Both courses meet OSHA bloodborne pathogens standards.


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