Many thousands of workers are exposed or potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens in the workplace. Bloodborne pathogens are microorganisms found in blood or other potentially infectious material (OPIM) that can cause disease in people. One such bloodborne pathogen is the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. Other more common bloodborne pathogens are the hepatitis B and C viruses.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in a recent year 384,000 workers in the healthcare industry were injured by needles and other sharps infected with bloodborne pathogens, and an additional 206,000 workers in all other industries were injured.
The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) requires employers to eliminate, or at least minimize, the hazards of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens. The standard requires employers of workers at risk of occupational exposure to blood or OPIM to develop a written Bloodborne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan. In addition, such employers must implement a combination of safety measures including engineering and work practice controls, personal protective equipment, employee training, and offering potentially exposed workers the vaccination against hepatitis B.
There are a variety of job classifications or tasks that qualify as “at risk” of occupational exposure to blood and OPIM and are, therefore, covered under the bloodborne pathogens rule. This includes employees trained and designated to give first aid, healthcare workers, and even housekeepers and janitors at healthcare facilities.
Employers must give bloodborne pathogens training to at-risk workers to help them identify blood and OPIM and to protect themselves against exposure. Training must include universal precautions. "Universal precautions" means to treat all human blood and OPIM as if they are infected with pathogens. Common universal precautions include:
- Thoroughly wash hands after any potential exposure.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
- Thoroughly clean potentially contaminated surfaces with a disinfectant, such as a bleach solution.
Safety.BLR.com provides comprehensive state and federal workplace safety compliance analysis. Some of the most used bloodborne pathogens safety compliance and training tools available from BLR include:
- Customizable Bloodborne Pathogens Plan
- Compliance checklists
- PowerPoint® and audio training presentation
- Bloodborne Pathogens safety meetings and talks
If you need a bloodborne pathogens safety compliance solution, BLR has it!
Bloodborne Pathogens: What OSHA Says You Must Do—Safety Daily Advisor
Bloodborne Pathogens Standard—Regulatory Text